There’s something very therapeutic about mowing the lawn at this time of year, not least in the knowledge that you shouldn’t have to be doing it for too much longer. The sun, although as bright as ever, has lost its fiercest heat; the days are shortening perceptibly, the mower’s basket is less full. Even the ants have given up creating bare patches for now.
My lawns are not huge: well within the range of the mower’s cable. They are far from flat, but unlike last year, they are at least green. They are certainly no bowling green. They host various bouts of running, tumbling, football and cricket. The bounce is, at best, variable. It would leave Joe Root¹ staring at the sky, having vainly chased another one rising sharply just wide of off: it would leave Jordan Pickford² cursing his luck as he fished another one out of the net. But we manage ok, the grandkids and me. Lord knows, we even manage a bit of golf – although with very limited success, when we discover that the hole is full of clothes dryer instead of flag. I must admit that the combination of eighteen inch plastic putter, lightweight plastic ball, uneven surface and grass that is at least two inches longer than regulation does little to help. I would claim to be the world’s worst golfer, were it not for my granddaughter who, tired of constantly missing the ball, gradually takes to thrashing the plants in a manner that I do not think would be considered at all sporting at the R&A.
The mowing is not a long job – although on a good day I can make it so – and I can sense that even my tiny electric mower finishes it with a wheeze of ‘Is that it? Is that all you’ve got?’ Well, yes, it is. Mind you, it’s alright for you little Bosch, you are blithely unaware of how scruffy a front hedge appears alongside a neatly cut lawn. My wife is not, and I am quickly apprised of the situation.
My electric hedge trimmers add a suitable level of jeopardy, if not actual danger, to the morning. When they were younger, they may well have been capable of excising an errant finger here and there, of chopping through an injudiciously placed cable; now, they would merely give either a nasty nag, but an unwelcome one none-the-less. Unfortunately I do not have the intellect to buy common-sense, and we remain uneasy bedfellows, electrical equipment and I. We are all much happier when anything with an external power supply is safely stowed away in the shed. Not quite so therapeutic is the actual process of ‘stowing’. There is nothing in my shed that does not strive to injure me in some way or another. Like Mr Magoo striding purposefully towards an upturned rake, I approach confidently, but there is inevitable harm awaiting. If I do not get punctured by some unseen implement, I get stung by a belligerent house-guest, or receive an eyeful of some noxious something-or-another that I had completely forgotten ever storing there. We have a very traditional love/hate relationship, the shed and I – although from my side it is all hate.
Still, that’s not the worst of it. ‘As you’re out there,’ says the voice from within, ‘the gutter’s leaking.’ My relationship with ladders is even more problematic than my relationship with all things electrical and pointy. I have never had problems with walking underneath them, it is the standing on top of the bloody things that bothers me. (On a scale of 1-10, where 1 = becalmed and 10 = an autumn day on Neptune, how much wind does there have to be to make you feel unsafe on a ladder? Answer, 0.) Anyway, I did it. Did I mention that I had to rest the ladder on the garage roof, having climbed up there via a step ladder? Still, not quite so far to fall. I didn’t, by the way, fall off that is. I cleared the gutter without mishap; got myself and the ladder off the garage roof without incident and stored the step ladder back in the shed completely without injury. Until, that it, I stubbed my toe on the lawnmower…
¹England cricket captain – widely regarded as one of the best bats in the world until, like many before him, the precise moment at which he was made captain, at which point, the wheels fell off.
²As I write, England goalkeeper, although that may change. Eccentric, like most goalkeepers, Jordan has elevated the state into full-on barking at the moon.