By Arts Correspondent Huey Bankrupt
He’s known in the gardening community as “The Sex Pistols of Plants” for his renegade ways of bending the rules and anarchy when it comes to horticulture, and 45-year old Dan Bookem wouldn’t have it any other way. It seemed for a while that he was untouchable despite his many controversial tactics during his career. But that all changed when he was found to be using banned foreign substances in his plants when participating in several flower shows and the like. Now, after serving time in prison for this and other offences, Mr Bookem is back and asked me to interview him and talk about his plans for the future. We are outside his Shropshire mansion, with Mr Bookem in sunglasses and leaning on his Suzuki AEM Carbon Fiber Hayabusa motorbike.
TDJJ: “So, you’ve spent the last five years in prison paying your debt to society. Has prison changed your perception on your lifestyle?”
DB: “Probably not. They can’t tame me, the gardening world out there needs people like the D-Dog. I know because of me, as an artist, more and more people are getting interested in plants and shit, young kids are getting involved, making the community a more vibrant place to be. Anyway, I got plans that I’ve been working on, something no one would ever think of.”
TDJJ: “Ah, I heard that you were planning something to mark your comeback. When are we going to see your new work?”
DB: “It’s ready now. Follow me.”
I followed him into his 300-acre back garden, past the swimming pool, fishery and makeshift brothel, and into a huge airport hangar of a greenhouse. Mr Bookem pushed away a large amount of foliage and turned to me with pride.
DB: “This, this is my next magic trick.”
TDJJ: “Wow. How big is that peach?”
DB: “About seven foot in diameter, all told. Took a while to grow as you’d expect, but with a little help from some friends online, it was just a matter of waiting.”
TDJJ: “What are your plans with it? It looks illegal, You won’t be able to enter any competitions with it surely?”
DB: “I’ve looked at the rules and I’ve been able to work around the restrictions. Not only that, I intend to get inside the peach once I’ve sneaked it onto the site at the Clungunford Garden Show next week. It’s kind of a political protest about me losing five years of my life in prison over a few silly misdemeanours. Once inside, I’ll be making the peach pulsate to get people’s attention, and I’m gonna blow the fucker up once people realise that I’m in there. Kind of like what I did a few years back when I inserted Chinese dynamite into my courgettes at the Onibury Fruit and Veg Contest. Yeah, people lost a few limbs but the kids loved it, made all the papers. Classic D-Dog!”
TDJJ: “In your absence, a new challenger has arisen to fill the void, Pete “The Pipmeister” Dreadnought. He’s taken blowing up fruit and veg to the next level. What are your thoughts on him?”
DB: “I’ve known him since he was a rookie gardener, way back when he didn’t know his daffodils from his daisies. Couldn’t even operate the fucking lawnmower. It’s ironic or something that he was one of my biggest fans until my lock down, then after a few angry Twitter exchanges, he started to copy my shit when I weren’t around.”
TDJJ: “I’ve heard he’s also going to attend the garden show with something special. Have you got any words for him, in the remote chance that he’ll read this interview?”
DB: “Oh, he’ll be reading this. He’s been following me since I was released. He’s running scared. Blowing up fruit and veg is an art form, and I’m the master mothe*fucker! You ain’t nothing. I got some explosives from a country that no one’s ever heard of, and if I survive the 15 foot blast radius the D-Dog will be going home with that trophy.”
The Clungunford Garden Show is to take place on Saturday the 8th of February. Tea and jam on sale, cress optional. Some local MP or minor celebrity will be attending as well to adjudicate. £2 admission fee.