6th December Part 4

Then it’s off to Tenbury, and lunch, before visiting the market. This is much as I saw it this morning – not much new material, though some is still arriving, on the back of a variety of unlikely vehicles (including a 1974 Austin 1100 Vanden Plas – you don’t see many of those around these days).

Some filming at the market, which already has an air of sadness over it – as this could be the last one ever. Matt spends his time examining the lots for mistletoe insects – which slightly alarms some of the sellers as he picks the mistletoe up and shakes it vigorously. No harm done, only lose a few berries, and he is rewarded with one of the bugs, albeit dead already. See pics below.

Matt shaking insects out of a mistletoe lot Posted by Hello

Musical Mistletoe

Trying out my new ‘Musical Mistletoe’ today. Bought on Ebay, where it’s being sold by various sellers – some describing it as wonderful, others warning you only to buy it for your worst enemy.

Having tried it, I concur with the worst enemy camp – it is truly awful, and probably the worst taste mistletoe items I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying something…) . Basically it’s a bunch of plastic mistletoe (modelled on the American species as usual – but that’s another story), that is strung with small red LEDs, a movement sensor and 3 awfully tinny Christmas tunes. Actually Christmas out-of-tunes would be more accurate as the noise is incredible, and there doesn’t seem to be a volume control…

The box says it would be good for parties – and maybe it would, but I think we’ll leave it switched off in the house. The product is a British invention – which hit the headlines a couple of years back but it seems to have never caught on – I wonder why?….

Musical mistletoe – box and product… beware!Posted by Hello

In the Daily Mail after all

Saturday – and another look at the Daily Mail Weekend supplement for Monty Don’s mistletoe article. And it’s in this week – complete with a picture of genuine English mistletoe (taken by yours truly in me mum’s garden a fortnight ago – but I won’t give up the dayjob for a photography career just yet…).

Was it worth the wait? Well, sort of, it’s a good balanced piece talking about mistletoe in the British context, but I had hoped MD might say a bit more about his Herefordshire links. And goodness knows where he got his info on how mistletoe grows – according to the article its ‘roots’ grow ‘into’ the heartwood, eventually surrounding it and killing the branch. Not so, not so at all, mistletoe doesn’t have roots per se, and certainly doesn’t grow into the hostwood – it stimulates the hostwood to grow around it, not vice versa. And it doesn’t surround and kill the branch either. It’s really all to do with a specialist woody and cambial tissue organ called a haustorium – but maybe that’s too much for the Saturday Mail – but methinks MD should know better… I’ll ask him sometime!

Daily Mail article with mistletoe… click to enlarge Posted by Hello

Mistletoe trade stats in the Times

Today’s Times has a report on yesterday’s holly and msitletoe sales at Tenbury – majoring on the glut of berries and material for both plants and how this is pushing down prices.

This is a curious tradition of the Times – prices and tonnage for msitletoe are a regular feature – and similar stats can be found in editions dating right back to the 19th century – though mostly relating to the import trade. I’m not really quite sure why this is so newsworthy – how many people (apart from me) are really interested in the fact that 30 tonnes were on sale yesterday in 1250 lots?

Some historic examples that come to hand:

The Dec 3rd 1949 Times reported that the French vessel St Effiam arrived with 2283 cartes of mistletoe – though tonnage is not quoted. The Dec 14th 1934 edition tells us that two boatloads of mistletoe, ‘representing 130 tons’ were landed from France. Dec 7th 1921 reports that mistletoe ‘will only be available in small quantities’. And on Dec 20th 1915, despite the war, France was reportedly sending us mistletoe at high prices because of an organised campaign against it in French Orchards.