Lola Chevrolét, our woman who is no stranger to a big stick, uncovers the hidden talents of one of the Internet's leading Satirists
Left: some of Mr Tree's astonishing wooden masterpieces
|In these highly competitive and overly commercialised times it is not often that Great Britain can be said to lead the world, but in the ancient skill of turning wood into pleasure, few British craftsmen can equal Mr Tree|
Utterpants was privileged to be invited to the annual Wood Lovers Convention, held in the picturesque surroundings of Deep Bottom, Hampshire, the country seat of the renowned philanthropist and Aesthete, Sir Percy Mountjoy (64) and his ravishing, new young wife, the charming, Ukrainian-born Nadya (16).
Among the demonstrators displaying their consummate skills to the open-mouthed crowd of admiring ladies, was none other than our own Assistant Editor and social historian, Mr Derek Tree—an acknowledged master of his craft, by all—including himself.
The aptly named Mr Tree told Utterpants he has had an intense fascination with wood as a means of bringing pleasure to even the most jaded of ladies, since early childhood, or more specifically, the day his family's housemaid slipped on the stairs and landed in his lap whilst he was in the process of polishing a particularly fine, beech finial.
It was almost inevitable, therefore, that wood would one day become
central to his working life, and the lives of those his fascinating
hobby has captivated.
It was an interest that was to change his entire life.
Initially, Mr Tree sold his imaginative creations through the Unmarried Young Mothers Association, where there was an eager market for his remarkable wares, but it was not long before his work became noticed and much sought after—especially by American women who apparently cannot get enough seasoned, British wood.
We began by asking him what was uppermost in his mind when working
discovered that the indefatigable Mr Tree will happily produce a brush
to individual customer specifications, from contemporary styles modelled
on animals like the
rabbit or the python to charming Roman Centurion's batons, or alternatively
create a design all of his own. His aim is always to ensure that customers
get just what they want, although he did draw the line at producing
a set of ebony candlesticks featuring a carving of Tony Blair on the
A lifetime love of caring for wood has made Mr Tree acutely aware of
environmental issues and the global threat to many species of tree.
His flair and competence as a wood lover are not only recognised by the legions of customers from all over the world who clamour to handle his wares, but equally by his own contemporaries. He is one of only nine arborisists to have been offered membership to the exclusive Register of Professional Wood Lovers of Great Britain—membership being determined by the level of skill attained, which in Mr Tree's case, is unquestionably, profound.
He has lately become very active in the field of education, and has written several books on the subject of wood and wood care. "There is a considerable amount of pleasure in being fortunate enough to possess a skill and then being able to pass it on to other people," he told Utterpants.
When away from his beloved wood, 55-year-old Mr Tree likes nothing better than taking time to appreciate the beauty of the London landscape, especially lingering over an upthrust bottom, or a deep, wooded valley, or pruning his neighbours' bushes, often followed by the more leisurely pursuit of chocolate body painting.
A devoted family man with six sons and three daughters, Mr Tree has lived all his life in London, where he enjoys showing young and attractive female tourists Big Ben and Nelson's Column. Even after twenty years, he is still as excited about working with wood as he was in his teens. As he enthused to Utterpants: "I love it. Wood has given me so much enjoyment over the years, and still does. I eagerly look forward to the start of every day, knowing that the wood I handle in the morning could be giving untold pleasure to a lonely woman by tea time. Wood is my life."
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