Chas Hodges is well known as half of the Cockney duo, Chas ‘n’ Dave. Well loved for their toe tapping tracks including Gertcha and Rabbit, it turns out that one of Chas’s own passions is for growing veg. His latest book , ‘Chas and His Rock ‘N’ Roll Allotment’ has just been published and he explains how he learnt to ‘grow his own’.
“I discovered the joys of gardening years ago when the family were young and we bought a bungalow from an old lady in Broxbourne. She had kept the garden like an allotment all through the War so when we moved in, it was already to go. I was only 28 so had loads of energy but little knowledge about how to keep the garden going ; the best thing of all was that she moved in with her sister next door and between them, the two old ladies, Glad and Grace, soon put me straight. They taught me loads of stuff and helped me get sorted out. I didn’t even know what onion sets were then but they are still my favourite veg to grow today. They are so easy, just press the sets into the soil in the spring and away to go! Back in those days, growing veg was associated with older people but now, where I’ve got my allotment, half the people there are in their 20’s and 30’s. They even ask me for a few tips now and then.”
Chas continues to explain how the pen became mightier than the spade, “I had already written a couple of books, ‘Chas before Dave’, and ‘Chas & Dave: All About Us’ when I’d finished them I still had the bug to write more. So I wrote a novel about a man who wants to please his wife by growing veg. The trouble is he hasn’t got a clue and doesn’t even know what a trowel is. It’s all about how I learnt myself really; I approached it like it was my life. He ends up growing great veg and pleasing his wife and still has time to go down the pub. I wanted it to be educational and entertaining. If gardening becomes a task then you’re doing something wrong. You shouldn’t let it be a chore. For example I find growing cabbages a chore, they need a lot of looking after and are too popular with the birds and caterpillars, so I don’t bother, I stick to my onions and spinach. They’re both easy to grow and good for you.”
“I’m planning to write another book next year, as I’ve redone my allotment. I’ve dug it all over and will manure it and rotorvate it so it’s all ready to start from scratch from January next year. Then I’ll do it all properly and plan it all and diarise it.”
“I don’t try to be self sufficient ‘cos I don’t want it to be a task but every bit you can grow helps. It’s also really therapeutic and I feel fitter now than I used to. I’m still on the road doing gigs, so it’s good to be fit. I’m really enjoying life, if I don’t do a gig every week I feel something’s missing. We’re called ‘Chas & his Band’ now and still do a lot of the Chas ‘n’ Dave stuff as well as some new songs. My grandson Harry came in from the garden the other day after picking potatoes and started singing about ‘tay-ters’, so I’ve started writing a song; “tayters, tayters, there aint nothin’ greater than a tayter.” Goes to show, gardening is inspirational to all ages and in more ways than one.” He grins. Pop into www.chashodges.com to find out more.