I Work For...Angela Glass is PA to Alan Titchmarsh, TV presenter, author and gardener - Insect legs and silk hankies

When, as a mother of young children, I used to watch Alan on Pebble Mill, I always thought that he came across as a very relaxed and amusing man. Years later, when I bumped into him at a parents' meeting at our daughters' school, I discovered this to be the case. I got to know Alan's wife Alison fairly well from our committee work for the school and she must have thought that I could write a good letter, for when Alan's PA went to Washington for two years Alison asked if I would be interested in working for Alan.

The arrangement was, and still is, that I work from home, which is about half an hour from Alan's house. We communicate via a system of boxes now which we exchange once a week and which are growing with the vast amount of correspondence Alan receives from four-year-olds to 90-year-olds. I sometimes feel that I am handling an unofficial fan club, yet one of my favourite aspects of the job is the warmth that comes through in the letters - Alan is so very much loved and I like being the go-between. The letters usually begin "Dear Alan, I hope you don't mind my calling you Alan but I feel like you are a friend..." People also send him presents, silk handkerchiefs from old ladies, that sort of thing - I think he brings out the mothering instinct in women regardless of their age.

We also get tongue-in-cheek letters with the words "You have always been a pin-up of mine", nowadays with a PS from the husband addressed to Charlie Dimmock saying gardening took on a new meaning for him since she arrived. Of course people also write in their hundreds requesting a Ground Force make-over, but there are quite a few letters of criticism from strict gardeners who disapprove of Alan's use of shingle or mirrors which might confuse dickie birds.

We even got a letter from a woman claiming that she had injured herself when trying to step over her Step-Over apple tree and nearly needed the attention of a specialist. Another letter came from a man who couldn't understand why the council wouldn't take away his 12ft conifer which he had stuck into a wheelie bin.

Packages of diseased plant or insect samples which people are keen for Alan to identify also regularly arrive and have to be handled with care, for after six weeks in the post the contents can have transformed into a soggy mess. There are occasions when I will find just the leg of an insect stuck under a piece of Sellotape which makes me wonder where the rest of the creature is. But I will try my best to help solve their problems with the aid of my Plant Search or Name That Rose books.

Gardening is Alan's form of relaxation and he writes his novels in the Far Pavilion, a little chalet in his garden. I've often gone round only to find that he is busy in his garden. I laugh at the number of people who casually say, "Oh, you work for Alan Titchmarsh, would he come and have a look at my garden?" - everyone seems to want a bit of him. Of course Alan has seen my garden, but only as a friend. I am a flower gardener myself; I may not be good on Latin names but I know what I like.

Alan's wife isn't a gardener herself but she backs him up to the hilt and he in turn tries to get home at night from wherever he is to be with the family. He has a terrific sense of humour, very silly and very English, which he shares with Alison. They both met through amateur dramatics and still put on hilarious shows to raise money for charity involving sketches, singing and dancing. It's all very much in the vein of classic English review comedy, particularly when Alan puts on false teeth and becomes a Dick Emery character.

He really is a superb chap and I regard him as a friend. Apart from giving me the odd lettuce, Alan also forwards his copy of Gardener's World. I haven't had the heart to tell him I already subscribe.

If you are in the public eye you have very little time for yourself and television is especially demanding - you have to be on call 24 hours a day so it's very difficult to escape. Alan keeps his own diary and organises a lot of his life himself and although I still receive the odd late fax or phone call, in the main I've been very lucky. I don't mind working on my own because each day is so varied, but if I begin to feel bogged down I will go out into the garden and relax by watching the blackbirds feeding their young.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform