OUR next door neighbour is selling his house. It has been empty for a while now, but he comes around a few times a week to do the garden, which contains rows of perfectly organised flowers. He is very polite.
This is why talking to me about my hedge is so obviously painful for him.
My hedge is a bit of a landmark. Whenever I’m giving directions to people, all I have to say is to follow the mile of neat front gardens until half way down the hill there’ll be a hedge you can’t miss.
A hedge that will remind you of the Seventies, before waxing was invented. Sprouting all over the place.
Neither can you miss the garden’s waist high grass and lush weeds, and the ivy which is devouring the house from ground to roof.
When you’re a single parent with a job, two kids, a highly strung Alsatian and a menstruating Rottweiler — well, let’s just say gardening is not high on the agenda.
Neither is housework — only the visit of a friend with a mop every Friday keeps the place from being shut down by Environmental Health as a bio-hazard.
The garden has long enjoyed bio-hazard status — I can’t get the dogs to use the loo like the rest of us — and now that it’s spring, everything is bursting from the earth in a vibrant green profusion.
I quite like it, all this jungly greenery everywhere, but the neighbour is anxious.
He thinks it will put off prospective buyers, being next door to Steptoe & Son’s yard consumed by jungle.
He’s a nice man, so I buy a Strimmer. (A lawnmower, unless military grade, would be useless.)
I begin strimming. God it’s tedious.
My arms start to hurt.
The garden suddenly seems enormous, endless tough, dense foliage.
I wonder if they sell Agent Orange at the garden centre?
The hedge towers over me, making my puny hedge cutter look like something Barbie would use. I need a chainsaw.
Actually, I need someone to do this for me. A professional.
If only I had some money.
I lose interest in the strimming, leaving huge clumps of uncut grass like a bad haircut, and hide in my room.
There’s an email telling me I have got a book deal.
A proper one, with a decent advance.
All I can think is, well, that’s the hedge sorted.
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