In the dark with Bill Turnbull


Posted by Andy Sivell | Posted in Beekeeping advice, Beekeeping books | Posted on 06-10-2010

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Arrive home at six to discover the neighbours congregated around the end of our driveway. There’s been a power cut. The electricity has been off since mid-afternoon. As I’m told this an EDF van pulls up with an engineer. Nice to see they’re on the ball.

I go inside to find the place eerily quiet. With two junior-teens in the house it’s normally lit up like a Christmas tree with them both transfixed – zombie like – by whatever is blaring out of the TV or X-Box. Now I find them sitting around (well, sprawled across the furniture) actually talking to Mrs S.

The light is fading fast so we break out the torches. I start reading a book, except that this is viewed as ‘unsociable’ by everyone else, so instead I’m persuaded to start reading aloud from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, the impending film of which we’d been discussing recently. When he was much younger I actually read the whole Harry Potter series to Lanky Teen so it’s a bit of a trip down memory lane. I’m encouraged to ‘do all the voices’. (“My Hagrid went down a storm in Woodford Green, don’t you know.”)

The Bad Beekeepers Club by Bill Turnbull

'The Bad Beekeepers Club' by Bill Turnbull - not just strictly for beekeepers

By 8.30pm the lights still haven’t come on, so Mrs S and the Ziz decide to call it a night. I can’t get to sleep that early so stay up reading to Lanky Teen, who then surprises me by asking if we can switch to Bill Turnbull’s The Bad Beekeepers Club (Sphere, ISBN 978-1-84744-398-4, GBP 12.99). If you’ve not read it yet I highly recommend you get a copy, particularly if you’re new to beekeeping. Mrs S bought it for me as a relaxation aid a month or two ago when I was in a particularly heightened state of Andy-ness.

I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t really aware who Bill Turnbull was until I read his book. I could just about identify him when told that he was, “that bloke off BBC Breakfast on the telly.” I had no idea he’d been taken to the country’s bosom as the obligatory ‘popular but hopeless’ contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. More to the point though, he’s also a beekeeper, and a very good writer to boot.

Bill’s generous starting-point is that if you’ve done anything wrong or silly while beekeeping, the chances are he’s already done it – and worse. Which of course is massively reassuring to all beginners. The sections in which he describes harvesting honey and then bottling it in the kitchen are laugh-out-loud funny.

By the time I hear the click, whirr and hum of lights and appliances coming back on it’s ten o’clock. Lanky Teen is fast asleep beside me and I’m feeling a lot better about my talents as a beekeeper. Now I just wish I was a better writer.


Comments (1)

nice article, keep the posts coming

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