Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cherry Picking

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'Cherry Picking' is one of those mysterious phrases that smooth-faced corporate types like to throw about at meetings, along with 'Low Hanging Fruit', 'Moving-Forward' and 'Win-Win'. In those ghastly dark days before I became a free-living, if undernourished, novelist, I used to be a corporate slave too, and got to hear these odoriferous obiter dicta often. Now, my chin always had too much stubble, even in those bad old days, to fully comprehend these incantations. I usually asked those clean-shaven management types to repeat their statement, slowly, in plain English. This got me widely disliked in management circles. Management types, having just unleashed an exceptionally well-crafted buzzword, do not like having to repeat themselves in plain English. It spoils the whole effect. Much hog has washed down the river since then, and I need no longer trouble my feeble mind with these intricacies. But trouble me they do. Especially that phrase Cherry-Picking. Were those smooth-faced beings telling me something deeper and more significant than appeared on the face of it? Was it some particular brand of cherry they were talking about? Did it have a lien with those other mystical terms, Bottom-Line and Synergy? Was Picking a code for a something beyond its standard dictionary definition? Was it even a verb?

I got a chance to find out for myself, several weeks ago. It was Cherry Season in the South of France (it's over now), and Blandine dragged me off to her cherry orchard for a spot of cherry picking.

Yup, Blandine has a cherry orchard.

 She also has a goat...

Nope, not me. It's a real goat with no name. ass ...

Nope, it's not me either. It's a real ass called Edourad.
And he is not a donkey. He is an ass of exceptionally high IQ 

...five cats...

Dodo the sleepy cat
Rah-Rah- Despite her wicked appearance,
she is a cat with a heart of gold
Pankin, the angry young cat.

 The other two cats did not 
wish to be photographed. 
They are old-fashioned cats 
and do not trust the internet.
 Their wishes have to be respected.

 ...two dogs...

Lulu the angelic three-legged pom
Bambi the devil in chiwawa's clothing 

Yup, that's me

... and a boyfriend, whom she frequently chases up the cherry tree. Nope, not a gum tree. That's Aunt Fanny.  Boyfriends get chased up the cherry tree.

Here I was, finally picking cherries - in real life.

Blandine explained the rudiments of the operation to me. It was simple enough. You stick a step ladder against a cherry tree, climb up, and grab the ripest cherries you can find: four at a time. Three you pop into your mouth, the fourth you pop into a little wicker basket you happen to be holding in your free hand. Then you change your mind and pop that one into your mouth too. At the end of a couple of hours, you have a full stomach and a wicker basket thinly lined with cherries. Then you climb down, trip, lose grip of the little wicker basket, tossing all the cherries on the grass. At which point the goat smartly steps in and gobbles them up.

In short, a nice, clean wholesome form of entertainment.

But what did it have to do with Synergy? With Bottom-Line? With Win-Win? What were those godlike clean-shaved creatures trying to tell me? What? What? What?

Despite now having picked cherries in real life, I am still in the dark on that point.


By the way, if you aren't a P.G. Wodehouse addict, you wouldn't have got that "Aunt Fanny" joke. In Wodehouse novels, rural folk are prone to such colorful expostulations as 'Cor, chase my Aunt Fanny up a gum tree!', and other similarly bizarre expressions. Possibly they spoke like that in rural England, in Wodehouse's time. Or possibly not. He might have made that up. In any case, I doubt they speak like that any more.

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