Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cundall on Denton

I am not a huge Peter Cundall fan. For starters I'm not a gardener so much of his wisdom is wasted on me. His mannerisms have got so extreme in recent years he is a bit of a self-parody. So I didn't see the Andrew Denton interview, but yesterday I had to look up the transcript (for work!) and I found this bit very interesting.

ANDREW DENTON: Let's go back to when you were a young man and you first were conscripted into the British Army, as you said, to fight Hitler. As a paratrooper your first actual posting was to Austria, at the end of the war, to help with the liberation of the concentration camps?

PETER CUNDALL: That's right, yes.

ANDREW DENTON: Your job was to guard the...


ANDREW DENTON: ...the SS guards who had run these camps... [...] Did you see these SS guards, these men, as monsters or as men?

PETER CUNDALL: No. They could have been you or me. [...] Hitler, don't forget, almost his last days, when he was in the bunker, he was saying at one time that, "The SS have betrayed me," because they retreated, and he had all his commanders executed. And almost his last words was, "The German people have betrayed me," you know. I mean - and this is an example of a supreme form of pathological narcissism and you do get it. You get it in politics. They're the people who can't admit that they have made a mistake.

ANDREW DENTON: Do you get it in gardening?

PETER CUNDALL: Absolutely. You get it in gardens and in gardening, right. You get somebody - mainly with blokes. Blokes and women are totally different gardeners. Blokes are single-minded, right. So you get these dahlia men, right - really, it's true - and they compete with each other, or the cactus men and they compete, right, and the chrysanthemum men.

ANDREW DENTON: They're the worst.

PETER CUNDALL: They're deadly.


PETER CUNDALL: And they kind of loathe each other. If ever you see them at the shows, there you see a beautiful chrysanthemum or a dahlia and you say to one of them, "That's not bad, he says, "Just a minute," he whips out this bloody instrument and starts measuring the petals. That's true.

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