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Book Review: Tropical Orchids

by Lang Reid

Rather than a ‘who dunnit’ this week we have a ‘what izzit’ instead. Tropical Orchids (ISBN 962-593-156-2, Periplus Editions [HK] 1999) is a slim hardcover reference book for the orchid grower. Since I know (sorry, ‘knew’) nothing about orchids, this book looked like the ideal way to at least look a little more knowledgeable.

The author is a David Banks, who it turns out, is a world expert on orchids and is apparently well known on the international orchid judging circuit. He wades straight into the subject in the introduction. “No beating around the bush, Petal,” as Ms. Hillary might say! There are over 30,000 different orchid species and well over 100,000 hybrid strains have been artificially propagated.

I have always wondered just why orchids command such a high price in the flower markets, but after reading that most take four years from germination to flowering, and up to twelve years in some cases, one can see why. A long time between germination and getting the goodies.

Another (for me at least) surprising fact was that although 75 percent of orchids grow in the tropics, the vast majority of these are actually found in the cooler mountainous forests at altitudes higher than 1000 metres above sea level, explaining the preponderance in Chiang Mai, for example. And why I get an orchid on my pillow every night.

The book also details the hermaphrodite nature of these plants, possessing both male and female structures, and the flower itself is designed to attract bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, ants and birds, which all play a part in the fertilization. There are some species that put out the odour of rotting flesh, which attracts flies!

The 120 species are catalogued alphabetically, which does give the book a logical approach to the subject, and each one is illustrated with some superb colour plates. Dendrobium crumenatum caught my eye as I read through. This orchid is induced to start flowering when the temperature falls to 10 degrees Celsius, during tropical storms for example. Exactly nine days later the plants will bloom, but the flowers only last one day! Amazing!

The review copy was made available by Bookazine and it carried an RRP of 335 baht, but should be available in most good book stores. What caught my eye was the cover design and the factor that tipped the scale was the promise on the back cover that “this handy little field guide provides an excellent introduction to over 120 exotic orchid species found in Southeast Asia, many unique to the area.”

An excellent introduction indeed, with an index at the back, as befits any reference work. At only 62 pages I felt initially that it was perhaps a little skimpy, but there is so much reading material amongst the very high quality photographs, that I changed my mind by the end of the book. To be able to say, “Will you leave any Aerides rosea on my pillow tonight?” should baffle the room maid on my next trip! B. 335 is a small price to pay for looking more knowledgeable than one really is!


Mott's CD Reviews: The Wildhearts - The Wildhearts Must be Destroyed!

Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew

5 Hearts

Destroy The Wildhearts? Never. Nobody could anyway; the Wildhearts and Keith Richards represent the true spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll and are indestructible, although they have tried pretty hard to self-destruct themselves. In twenty years time they will still be out there somewhere rocking their little wild hearts out, on the brink of stardom, but, like Strange Fruit from the Movie ‘Still Crazy’, they will still find some way of messing it up.

The Wildhearts have had top ten hit singles. ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’ reached number 6 in the U.K. and the album ‘Fishing for Luckies’ actually reached number one. They somehow managed to get pulled off the support slot for AC/DC’s Stateside trip due to lack of finances from the management. Always on the verge of Superstardom, but always managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

They succeeded splitting up in 1999, but here we are in 2004 with a newly released album and a lineup that would make Spinal Tap look like a regular gig. They have managed to patch up the relationships and returned to the (almost) lineup that recorded their first album in 1993, ‘Earth vs. the Wildhearts’. After years of bickering, CJ has overcome his differences and came back into the fold (perhaps helped by the fact that CJ now lives in Japan, whilst the rest of the band live in England, only getting together for recording and touring).

The mighty Stidi is back on the thundering Wildhearts’ drums. This man sure hits the bins hard.

Unfortunately, Danny McCormack (the only one with a straight forward name - “Stidi” indeed), the original bass player and firm fan favorite, is presently not in the correct physical health to re-join the band. However, the door is apparently always open if he can get himself into a fit condition. On the other hand, his bass-playing shoes are well filled on the road by Jon ‘the Loon’ Poole.

Then out front on lead guitar and lead vocals is chief songwriter and the world’s most loveable nutter, Ginger, the only constant factor in the lineup. In fact, it could be said he is ‘The Wildhearts’. Ginger’s favorite vacation spot is also Pattaya, which certifies him as a good bloke, doesn’t it?

Has the passage of time slowed down the Wildhearts? No, not a bit. It’s still pure straight down the line Rock ‘n’ Roll with the catchiest hook lines, crunching guitars, and that certain madness that sends the blood pounding. It’s like a cross between Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Heavy Rock, Grunge, Pop, Metal ... It’s the Wildhearts right; it rocks.

On ‘Must Be Destroyed’ you get eleven ditties to bang your head to. Nine were written by Ginger, one co-written by Ginger/Jagdhar (‘So Into You’), and one by C. Jagdhar (‘Out From The Inside’ - funny how they can remember their real names when it comes to songwriting royalties). They all have their little stories to tell.

Opening track ‘Nexus Icon’ is all about rock stars who have become a little too big for their boots. ‘One Love, One Life, One Girl’ is all about Ginger’s new found life in a stable relationship, and so on. For once in Rock ‘n’ Roll the lyric sheets that come with the CD are actually worth reading and not just a load of words that happen to rhyme. The booklet with its illustrations makes the C.D. worth buying alone, especially the one that goes with ‘Top of the World’.

All sung in Ginger’s distinctive Geordie drawl. Mind you, I’ve never heard a Geordie, or for that matter anyone, sing that fast on the real belters such as ‘Get Your Groove’. Ginger and CJ crank the guitar riffs up to eleven and just let go. Ginger lays down many memorable solos that are gut wrenching in their power, whilst the rhythm section drives them on faster and faster to ever greater heights.

You also get guest appearances from Andy Cairns and some high pitched yodeling from the now very famous Justin Hawkins of Darkness. The Wildhearts are at present (January 2004) out on the road in Britain with The Darkness, a double bill that should raise the roof every night. For tour dates look up the Wildhearts website at www.wildhearts .com

Wildhearts Must be Destroyed? Rubbish. They should be cherished as an institution.

Musicians credited on this album
Ginger - Guitar and Vocals
CJ - Guitar and backing vocals
Stigi - Drums
Songs
Nexus Icon
Only Love
Someone That Won’t Let go
Vanilla Road
One Love, One Life, One Girl
Get Your Groove On
So Into You
There’s Only One Hell
It’s All Up To Me
Out From The Inside
Top Of The World

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]