Granny's Triffids

in Your Top 3 Contestlast year (edited)

I must have been all of five years old when I learned about triffids. Or so I thought. They were in the new vegetable garden of the new house we'd moved into not long before Granny came to visit.

Me, in August 2020, outside the house my parents built in 1968, and behind which the triffids grew.

Dad, the horticulturist he was, and having grown up with an alotment, composted the garden from the embryonic compost heep that consisted largely of vegetable peelings and waste. I remember that something that hadn't been planted, suddenly started coming up where the "proper" seedlings should have been. With hindsight, the Dad probably had more than an inkling of what they were likely to be. Granny and Mum, not so much. Granny, as I've mentioned before, was a prodigious reader and was also given to the occasional bit of singing.

Anyhow, the plants with the long vines and winding tendrils and the pretty yellow flowers became the triffids. Inspected daily.

Every year we grow Triffids. Of one sort or another.

Granny's triffids turned out to be gem squash and they are one of the first vegetables I ever remember harvesting.

Why is she on about Triffids?

Regular readers know that I occasionally participate in a monthly themed contest about favourite things. Over the last year, I'm gathering that the @yourtop3 team now expect a "Fiona treatment" of the topic. Talk about no pressure! Ha! I nearly skipped this month: the theme is end-of-the-world movies. When I saw that, my heart sank. Skop, skiet en donner, blood, gore and gratuitous violence are just not my thing.

Not doing the apocolypse

The only apocalyptic film I could even remotely remember seeing was Francis Ford Cappola's Apocalypse Now. Although I was forced to study Conrad's Heart of Darkness on which the film was loosely based, I worked as hard at forgetting both. It's taken thirty-odd years and I didn't think I was going to revisit either. On purpose. Nope. Not. Still not!

Then I Googled lists of films that were about the end of the world and, my gosh, there were a huge number from which to choose. I'd actually seen two. On the lists that popped up for me. So, avoiding the Apocalypse was Now unavoidable.... Regardless of tThe fantastic reviews, brilliant cast and direction mean that I might just watch it - if, at the end of the world there is nothing else to watch...

The book

On that list, there was another name that jumped out at me: The Day of the Triffids. Ha! I had forgotten that there had been a film. I remember John Wyndham's book which I had discovered in the school library and devoured.

The library in which I discovered The Day of the Triffids is still there - two windows to the left of the main entrance to Clarendon Girls' High School in East London. This photo: 2010 when I returned for our 30th reunion.

My over-active adolescent imagination created creatures that were so terrifying that the thought of seeing them "for real", even in a film, didn't bear thinking about.

I was the child that when things got a little hairy on TV or home movies, would flee and peek around a corner until Shane was safe and sound....


Back to that list: the other film that I had seen was the 1977 film Damnation Alley. I now realise that my friend and I probably only went to see it because of Jan Michael Vincent. I've never forotten the film. Neither for the cast nor the story, but because of the terror of the flesh-eating cockroaches that swarmed through the sewer grills of deserted streets any time they sensed human flesh nearby. The boarding house in which we stayed had a cockroach problem.

I still don't like cockroaches. Those images are as vivid in my memory as if I'd seen the film yesterday. Not forty years ago in East London as a seventeen year old.

It's a pattern

Just on twenty years after Damnation Alley, and serendiptously (but not, if you do simple arithmetic), twenty years ago, I spent a great deal of time commuting between Cape Town and Pretoria for work. A bunch of us were working on the new post school system that was emerging in post democracy South Africa. We stayed in a hotel, worked days and were at a loose end in the evenings. Occasionally, we didn't have work to do, or weren't completely exhausted, and we'd go to a movie. One of two movies I remember from that period, is The Matrix. Why I went to see it, and it didn't pop up on that Google list, and more to the point, why I'd forgotten it, I don't know. I'm grateful to Gaz (@cheese4ead), one of the Top 3 team for the reminder. I remember being enthralled, and the film stuck with me for a long time. The sequels simply don't live up to the original and are, for that reason, completely immemorable.

Going to the wall

This is a weird time and I'm not just talking about COVID-19: the world is beginning to realise the almost apocalyptic damage that humans are doing to the earth. Looking back to a 2008 film about the ravages of an electronic wasteland in the 29th century is somewhat prophetic. Like so many good children's films it's allegorical if you allow it to be. Also because it's a children's story, it leaves one with a warm feeling at the end even if there are tears. I like that. Again, thanks to Gaz for this happy reminder of the adorable WALL-E.

An aside

When WALL-E came out, I just didn't get it. You see, I was reading the reviews. I heard read with my South African English and sort-of British accent. I didn't get "wall". I didn't get "e". Until I heard it in American. Then the penny dropped: Wally!! Did I feel the wally?


I always say that I don't participate in this contest to win but rather, because the topics get me going. They do, and when I get a prize for being runner up, which happened for last month's entry...well, I'll take it and brag. Just a little.

As I suggested when I began, it was a close call as to whether I'd enter - until I came across Granny's triffids. Yesterday. At that point, I was going to nominate just one movie - because you can (ethically, I think), only nominate films you have actually seen - and give the topic the full royal "Fiona treatment". Then, this morning, thanks to Gaz, I discovered that there are three four end-of-world films I had actually seen! Two of which I actually want to remember.

So, to appease Q, my nominations, in no particular order, are:

  1. The Matrix
  2. Wall-E
  3. Damnation Alley (which for years, I thought of as Tin Pan Alley...oh dear...)
Until next time, be well Fiona The Sandbag House McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma


Post Script

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As usual, posted on Twitter for #posh here

Granny's triffids turned out to be gem squash and they are one of the first vegetables I ever remember harvesting.

I learned some new word today

Hahaha! "Triffid" is part of my standard lexicon for any unidentified and potentially unwanted lanky plant. LOL

A wonderful "treatment", as always. I also don't quite think I had heard the word "triffids" before, so that's something new for my mental vocabulary list. ;) The Day of the Triffids sounds like a movie they would have covered on the show Mystery Science Theater 3000. That was a quirky little show that my dad and I enjoyed where the three main characters are forced to watch bad movies and they give the most hilarious commentary as they do. I looked to make sure, but alas they did not cover that particular gem.

Big thanks to @cheese4ead for the reminders as those were some great picks in The Matrix and Wall-E. Glad to see they'll have a spot on the poll. Not quite sure if Damnation Alley will be on my watch list as those wicked little creatures pop up in our house far too often...

Best of luck in the polls!

Hahaha! You know, there are two The Day of the Triffid films. The original maded in 1962 and released in 1963 (and bear in mind that Granny visited in 1969/70...) and then two series, one in 1981 and another in 2009. I see that the original film is on YouTube. I'm sure you'll head straight on over!! 🤣

Not quite sure if Damnation Alley will be on my watch list as those wicked little creatures pop up in our house far too often...

Hahaha! I get you - and living in the country, they are regular and seasonal visitors here, too! I am glad we don't live in Durban where, I gather, they are born on steroids and are just enormous!!

Anyway, as you gathered, none of the above, except WALL-E is on my "watch list"!!

Hey, it’s Q here - the mascot of the Your Top 3 Contest - just swinging by to say thanks for these awesome suggestions for our contest this month! I've given you an upvote and logged your nominations, ready for the dpoll - keep an eye on my blog for the dpoll post!

Make sure you set your post payout to 50/50. You keep the HP and then transfer the HIVE and/or HBD (whichever is paid out at the time) to @yourtop3 with a link to your blog post entry in the transfer memo. This is the minimum entry fee, but you can add as much as you like to it! The more you add, the more you can win.There is no maximum entry fee.

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I'm gathering that the @yourtop3 team now expect a "Fiona treatment" of the topic.

As always, you never disappoint 😃

@cheese4ead will be relieved to see that Matrix made it in and that he inspired your other choice of Wall-E! A bit of "outside box" (or screen) thinking and seems that you've seen more than you think!

Damnation Alley sounds as menacing as Arachnophobia was when I watched that as a kid, stays with you forever more!

Good luck in this month's contest, as you have found out, you never know how the poll will go!

Happy to oblige @nickyhavey! 😊

Funny that those cockroaches were not the entire movie as spiders are, I assume in Arachnophobia, but they live with me, hahaha!

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Well you could probably work out the theme of the film in arachnophobia, wish it was unicorns or fluffy rabbits or cats, might have been a bit less harrowing!

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Nice :) The Day Of the Triffids looks terrifying, I would probably have my eyes closed through half the movie ;)

Hahaha! And you are not 17! I feel somewhat vindicated 😩🤭

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Never heard them referred to as Triffids, at a glance I would have said something related to the pumpkin family having had quite a few growing in gardens at home and around.

Well end of world movies, nice selection and good luck with the contest! I currently am not online as often, waiting for new cellular equipment installation after Telkom ripped up our ADSL line, proving to be pretty expensive!

Never heard them referred to as Triffids, at a glance I would have said something related to the pumpkin family having had quite a few growing in gardens at home and around.

Hahaha! As I said, Joan, Granny's triffids turned out to be gems, so you were spot on!

I am sorry your connectivity stuff is taking so long to sort. It really is such a pain! Hope that soon you're back with us, so to speak!

One day soon hopefully, it is madness being restricted to such poor signal. Electrician should now arrive tomorrow to put up the booster, wait and see, as always everything on African time!

Very good selections, The Matrix Uff, one of the best sagas. Although I don't remember seeing Damnation Alley, but it looks pretty scary.

Holy cannoli, Batman! How could I have forgotten about Triffids? I'm pretty certain I saw the movie via our local Creature Double Feature TV programming that ran every Saturday, and I was probably about the same age you were (and I don't doubt it got a feature on MST3K, as @plantstoplanks

Funny thing too - I was making a PB&J for hubby yesterday, and managed to drop a big gob of grape jelly on the counter. I immediately said, "Oh no - it's The Blob" and shuddered as I remembered how terrifying I found it whilst I was still in single digits.

At any rate, awesome job as always with the Fiona treatment (love that photo as well), and I'm sure @cheese4ead will be pleased to see Neo made the list!

So glad to know that at least one other person I know, actually recognizes a triffid! Funny how those little big things stay with one: I am now curious about that blob!

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Haha. Glad to have helped! And thanks for nominating two of my offerings. It's seems a rarity that any of my suggestions get nominated but I just had to lobby for the Matrix.

I look forward to your post every month. I'm glad you entered.

Another podium finish this month? 😁


I am happy to have been able to help, Gaz! I did have my doubts about this month's entry, and as for a podium finish, we shall have to see.

Appreciate the kind words.

Best to you and yours for a.good weekend!

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