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5 Minutes of Fame!

I had a call from the BBC in Manchester who asked if I’d go onto the Heather Stott show to talk about my book Low Cost Living. Well, how could I resist an opportunity for some publicity?

I must admit, Low Cost Living is the book I think most of. It’s not really about saving money so much as an attitude and approach to life. So many of us spend our lives rushing around and working to buy the latest gadgets and gizmos and wonder where the money goes.

I honestly believe we eat better than most and as well as anybody on less money. It’s not just ‘grow your own’, it’s making the most of what you grow and buy. 30% of the food bought in the shops ends up in the bin. Take into account that a high percentage of the vegetables grown in the UK get rejected before they even get into the shops and you can see we can, as a society, reduce the amount of food we consume by half without really trying. To me, that’s a real green issue worth pursuing.

So many greens seem to equate ‘reducing your carbon footprint’ with denial and suffering. They’re almost like religious zealots, whipping themselves into a state of grace.

Yet there is little joined up thinking in their some of their demands. Before you rush off to buy a windmill and rejoice in producing your own electricity, consider that a suburban windmill won’t save the carbon emissions in its life that it produced when manufactured.

Low energy light bulbs and more importantly, using the off switch, will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. Green is good, not pain.

I’m often asked why people grow their own and are interested in self-sufficiency. I think I’ve finally worked out the real answer. It’s not saving money, wholesome foods or saving the planet. I’m convinced the real reason is empowerment, taking control of your own life and contributing to it.

Anyway, back to my five minutes of fame..

In my determination not to be late, I managed to get to the studio about an hour early. So, a slightly shocked lady told reception to send me off to the canteen. I must say the BBC canteen is rather better than any I’ve seen in my working life. For a start, it’s a full bar with beers on tap and some rather nice bottles of wine.

I settled for a couple of coffees and watched the bright young things come and go whilst I got more and more nervous. Eventually a young lady appeared and asked if I was John Harrison. She looked rather relieved when I said yes.

Apparently the security man on the gate hadn’t checked me off and they’d had a panic thinking I wasn’t there. The previous guest had been stretched into my time slot! Serves me right for being early I suppose.

I was whisked down endless corridors to the studio where Heather Stott, the show’s presenter was. She’s lovely – really enthusiastic, friendly and full of bubble. She got me settled and set up and then we chatted whilst a song was playing.

Instead of the direction I wanted to go, talking about the book, we ended up talking about how I’d made a packet in the dot com boom and then lost it all in the crash. How we’d been in the mire with our finances but were OK now.

Listening to the news about how a record number of people have gone bankrupt this last year, I do hope it gives them some hope and help. When things go wrong at 30, you have 35 years to go again before retirement. At 50, you’ve less than half that and panic sets in.

By living frugally, working hard and a good dose of luck, we’ve got back on track. And if I can do it, anyone can.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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