It's not pretty, is it? I don't mean my red cabbage which I think is beautiful despite the ravages of pests, but the feeling of envy. I've been experiencing quite a bit of envy and going green round the eyes over the last few days, and it's all because of other people's skills with growing and photographing things.
We watched Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers the other night and though I was very pleased to see that he has as many slugs and caterpillars attacking his veg as I do, I found myself horribly envious of his wonderful garden. It's a posh allotment in a way; a long, thin, urban plot with neat box borders and classical lines. It's a smart take on an old design, and I would give my eye teeth to have something similar beyond my back door.
On the subject of allotments, I was engulfed with more envy when Tom told me he and his 'A' Level art group were off to the local allotments to make sketches and take photographs. These are spectacular allotments enclosed by a high brick wall and securely locked at all times. I've driven past them for years and every time I have wished that I could go inside for a peek, so was very jealous of Tom's foray in this secret garden.
I was very touched when he showed me an 'aerial' view of rows of plants that he'd taken knowing it was my style and that it would appeal to me. But I was bowled over by the photos he took with his own eye - and by the fabulously eccentric and varied allotments that exist behind that high wall.
I had another surge of envy when I saw the organised chaos, the colours, the fruit and veg, the creativity and improvised structures.
For me, this is a suburban eden. Cue more envy.
But the greatest envy wave of envy came when I saw this photo in Tom's album (above - even better printed large on photographic paper). If there is one photo I wish I could have taken, it's this. It's a view of an allotment that I would never, ever see - and that, I think, is what good photography is all about. It makes you see things in a new way or shows you aspects of your world you'd never normally notice. I watched an excellent BBC Imagine programme about William Eggelston last week and was amazed by his photographs and could see that naturalness of vision is what it's all about. Damn it, I'm envious.