Drifting on a Grey Green Sea

I still get that dream – you know the one I mean, when you walk into an exam, turn over the paper and understand not a word of what you’re reading.

I had a waking moment like that earlier today, at the first workshop of the Green Infrastructure (“GI”) Partnership hosted by Defra at the Garden Museum. I think I was there as a potential partner. My moment came around the time of the “interactive mapping exercise” when we were asked to comment on “workstreams’ scope and outputs, evidence and customer insight”. I couldn't understand any of it, not even the outputs, which just seemed to be a series of advisory booklets - the one thing everyone agreed we had lots of. I tried to think of stuff but ended up writing my name and the date at the top of the paper and browsing for Christmas pressies in the museum’s lovely bookshop after feasting on their fantastic brownies. Fail and fatter. I know a bit about the green city – sorry, "GI" - stuff now – not a lot, but more than 99.9% of the population – so the fact I couldn’t understand what was going on or why it was going on is rather dispiriting. I did sign up to one of the workstreams as it included the word “biodiversity”, which I thought sounded promising, and I am determined to try to master the basics of this arcane form of communication. The venue and staff were lovely, by the way, and its charismatic curator Tim Woodward gave an interesting and erudite introduction. I've promised to introduce him to some more interesting russet apples to plant than his Egremonts, which have been half-inched. The Grasslands Trust’s Miles King was there to reassure me it really wasn’t a dream and I met other nice and different new people, some fluent government-speakers, which was interesting too. As I caught an earlier train than expected back from Waterloo I wondered whether the day hadn’t been such a total loss after all; perhaps I had seen what the Big Society was about.