Sunday, 29 May 2005
To me, gardening had always seemed much like holding in a fart, a futile and pointless attempt to halt the true course of nature. Much better, thought I, to let the land lie fallow and see what happens. As a result, when presented with a patch of land by my parents to garden as I pleased, it rapidly turned into something resembling a Viet Cong sanctuary. My old age has brought profound changes in my demeanour and I’ve finally begun to take an interest in the great outdoors, or more specifically, the tangled mess that confronts me every time I step outside to dump more rubbish in the back shed. Once this was a nice little garden, tended by a sweet old lady with an appalling taste in tacky garden accessories. Then, the rugby girls moved in, and the garden rapidly degenerated into an urban jungle, infested with snails, small bugs and weeds. When I first cast my eyes over the thicket at the rear of my property, I saw its potential. Like a pioneer settler could see myself carving something out of this wilderness, a place where I can sit out in the sunshine and be at one with nature. I learned subsequently that nature has other ideas.
My backyard contains several items I have selected for extermination. A small but offensive pond is the principal offender; once upon a time it may have contained goldfish, now it appears to have become infested with putrid green algae. Towards the rear of the garden are some bizarre multicoloured sticks that look much like psychedelic toilet brushes. These rated extremely high on the bad taste scale and I swiftly banished them to exile in the shed. The Peruvian wind chimes were scheduled for a similar fate but they seem to have grown on me. In one corner is a tall wooden seating arrangement that has clearly seen better days. A large section has fallen to the ground and, judging by the foul stench, I deduce that the local tabby has marked his territory on it. I repaired this structure with twine and sticky tape but the roof subsequently dropped on my head when I sat down to ponder the fruits of my labour. Having uttered several unpleasant, but original expletives, I came to the conclusion I should have paid far more attention in woodworking class and learned the basics, instead of making battleships out of plywood and staging mini recreations of the Battle of Jutland. Another object I’m not keen on is the ‘passion flower’ that dominates a small corner of my garden. It is supposed to be a moderately rare plant but it looks like something from ‘Day of the Triffids’ as it spreads its tentacles around the flower beds, suffocating all in its path. I’ve cut this back but it can’t be long before it stages a renaissance, if I does, the parrot beak is at the ready.
It may sound as if my garden resembles a scene from ‘Heart of Darkness’, but it’s a small corner of paradise compared to the awful backyards of my immediate neighbours. The people who live on my right were clearly inspired by Le Corbusier (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Corbusier); their garden consists of a square of cracked concrete, broken only by a large phallic washing pole, a motif presumably meant to convey ‘a complex understanding of modernity’s impact’. To the rear of the property, my neighbours seem to have gone for a mixture of bad taste and urban gothic. At first glance, their garden only seems to contain a couple of grotesque garden gnomes, concrete slabs and a small, unimposing flowerpot. Its main feature becomes only too apparent when I head out into my garden for some peace and quiet. The aforementioned neighbours appear to have a ravenous beast of Hades chained to my fence. I can hear it clawing at the wood, dying, no doubt, to launch itself at my testicles and tear them to pieces with canine relish. The barbed wire on the top of my fence –although aesthetically repugnant- is clearly there for good reason and I’m starting to appreciate the P.O.W camp chic. The neighbour to the left has gone for the wild look, and his hedge boundary is steadily uprooting my wooden screen and claiming more and more of my territory. Previously I marked out the snails infesting my garden as second-class citizens who must be subjected to a programme of forced emigration. I decided to retaliate against neighbour number three by pitching them into his garden; a primitive form of biological warfare you might say.
Katie and I have temporarily joined the ranks of the unemployed, this situation requires living on a budget and living off Tesco’s ‘value’ produce. The Tesco’s value bread must have unusual chemical properties. It goes stale as soon as it comes into contact with the air and deteriorates rapidly over the next 24 hours. By the following morning, it has transformed into a putrid block of fungus – very useful for medicinal purposes no doubt but scant use when you want to bake a cheese toasty. The milk, on the other hand, has provided good value for money -in fact it appears to have transformed itself into tuna over the past week. Upon opening the container this morning I was greeted by a fishy aroma. Efforts to pour the substance formally known as milk into my coffee proved fruitless, as it rapidly solidified and formed a layer at the bottom of my mug. ‘Value’ seems to be an inappropriate adjective, ‘shite’ would be a more worthy substitute.