Tag Archives: Chelsea Flower Show

A quarter of a century after listening to Duran Duran in the dark, I meet Simon Le Bon. But he’s mute.

SOME of you might be around the same-ish age as me. Some of you may be female, which means you may, around the early 1980s, have been a Duranie. (A devotee of the band Duran Duran).

Growing up in the deep South West, I could never claim to be a full-on Duranie. I never saw them live, or got an autograph by hanging around where they lived.
The closest I got was watching Top of the Pops, several posters on my
wall, a treasured copy of Rio – on vinyl – and fevered discussions with my friend Sally about how we were going to get John Taylor (her) and Roger Taylor (me) to be our boyfriends.

Needless to say, we weren’t as hardcore and loyal as some of our peers. Apart from the soaring Ordinary World, the music faded over the years as did
our penchant for silly hair and duster coats. I grew out of Duran Duran.

Not just a careless memory

Then 25 years later, wandering around the floral pavilion at Chelsea Flower Show like a proper grown-up, I spot Duran Duran’s lead singer Simon Le Bon, walking hand-in-hand with his sickeningly beautiful wife Yasmin.

At first I pretended I hadn’t noticed them, but in my head I’m thinking, “Should I say something? I’m a journalist for goodness sake, I can ask them about Chelsea. What’s the matter with you Hilary, you don’t usually get flustered by fame?”

I sidled up, offered both a handshake, intending to say, “Hello, do you mind having a quick chat about your favourite gardens?”

Instead, I stammer, “Er, hello, I’m Hilary and I’m, er, 41, which, er, means I was a big fan, and, oh, dear, how unprofessional, I, er, wondered if you’d mind if I took your photo . . ?”

At which point, Mr Le Bon takes my camera phone out of my hand, gives it to Yasmin, and gives me a hug, before posing for a photo with me.

But he doesn’t speak*. Not a word. Having interviewed a few pop-stars and actors over the years, I decided the non-speaking thing could just have been a weird celebrity quirk (I’ve seen weirder), or perhaps he was preserving his
voice, as some singers do before a gig.

So I find myself talking to this mute man – whose amazing voice I listened to in the dark, on a flip-up cassette player in my early teens – through Yasmin. But she’s struggling to make my phone take a picture.

It’s all a bit surreal.
She thinks she’s taken it, but it doesn’t click, I have to get her to
do it again. I’m embarrassed. They are both patient. I wave goodbye
and they walk off together again. Not speaking.

I stand still for a while, staring at my phone, wondering. There’s a picture of me and Simon Le Bon on it. Simon Le Bon!

I tweet it, in a completely show-offy way, hoping that somehow my mate Sally, now in her 40s, living in Dorset and mum to three kids, will see it. And be jealous.

Then I remember . . . she’s not on Twitter.

*I found out later that the first gigs on Duran Duran’s massive tour have been cancelled due to Simon Le Bon’s chronic laryngitis


Filed under Gardening, Random

Chelsea Flower Show: Monday is mental, advice for visitors

Just got back from Press Day at Chelsea Flower Show. How lucky. Tiptoeing through the tulips (that hadn’t gone over in the heat) was a delight this year.

If you are planning a visit this week, there’s a few things you should know. First, if you haven’t got a ticket, tough. It’s sold out.

Cleve West on his Daily Telegraph Garden. Hotly tipped for Best in Show, so my sources tell me

Second, it’s not like it looks on the telly. The gardens are smaller than they look and the site is enormous. It takes an entire day or more to see everything, and that’s when there’s

Laurent-Perrier Garden by Luciano Giubbilei – Nature & Human Intervention

only a few hundred hacks, snappers and celebrities in your way. ‘Public’ days are heaving, and you just won’t see it all. However, you should try to see everything possible, including the tiny gardens in the woods and the entire floral pavilion.
Get there as early as you possibly can and leave as late as you dare.

Again, don’t think just because you see ladies in floaty dresses and strappy stilettos on the TV that you can do the same. These are ladies who arrive by chauffeur-driven car or, at a push, a cab. They teeter about for a bit and get collected at the gate. Monday is mental. It’s so far removed from reality that it gives a completely different view of the rest of Chelsea week.
Most normal visitors will be carrying bags, traipsing from Sloane Square tube and back (about a ten minute walk) and circling endlessly around the site. It’s sweaty and exhausting. Wear a rucksack. Bring a wheely bag if you have a bad back. Pack drinks.

I’d start with the Main Avenue gardens and work around the outside of the pavilion. Then have a break before doing either the floral indoors or the gardens in the woods. Leave the shopping avenue until the end, so you have less to cart about, but don’t forget to leave time as there are loads of goodies (should have bought those gloves. . .)

Work out where the loos and food stops are on your map in advance when planning your route. There will be queues. Also make sure you know your train times. I left the site late, spent £20 on a cab which missed the turning for Euston and I missed my train by one minute, leading to a delay that meant someone else had to retrieve my offspring. Again.

I’ll have to come back and properly upload and caption some of the photos in the morning because I have to lie down and sleep. Happy Chelsea everyone!

Cancer Research/Robert Myers

More pics to come. . .

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Filed under Gardening