My mother would have been so proud. A few weeks ago, I strimmed my back garden (no, that’s not a euphemism). According to housemates, it hadn’t been touched for about a year and, during that time, may have been home to an ecosystem of ultra-tiny people.
But no longer.
After stepping out into the back garden and finding the grass and other miscellaneous green objects coming up to my knees, the strimmer was removed from hibernation and about three-quarters of the garden was culled before I ran out of strimmer wire. I may have committed genocide in the process, I’m not sure. I’m now committed to a summer-long programme of strim ‘n’ mow. Frankly, I’m paying more attention to my back garden (I said quiet at the back) than I am to my gym programme.
Anyway, my mother. Both parents have always been green-fingered – my dad has a significant vegetable plot while my mother can name just about every flower ever discovered. Their garden in Devon is the model of sustainability and colour. To be honest, if there was ever a nuclear apocalypse I’m moving back to the countryside, as I won’t die of starvation.
Well, that and the fact I’d have no real use in a post-nuclear apocalyptic society. “What can you do?” “I’m good with Web 2.0 stuff and I can string a sentence together.” “We have no internet now and sentences are not necessary. You will be eaten so we can survive.”
You can see why I’d move back to Devon. I don’t want to get eaten.
Anyway, my parents. They’ve always tried to gently push me towards horticulture but I’ve so far resisted. It’s taken my back garden turning into the amazon rainforest to get me to this stage.
Once I put the strimmer down (and if you want a way to inwardly reassert your masculinity, I can recommend it) I surveyed my wreckage kingdom work and thought to myself: “If, in the unlikely even I ever earn enough to buy a house in London, I’d like to do a bit of work on this. Make it…. habitable.”
And lo, in front of my eyes, there was a bit more patio (or patio without grass growing out the middle), the whole garden was landscaped and there were beds with flowers that my mother would probably know the name of, and on the other side a few herbs and some lettuces and other vegetables that I don’t know how to grow and would, in all probability, kill before they had a chance to grow.
Actually, I’ve talked about growing a lettuce before so it’s not the strangest idea that’s come out of my head in the past twelve months. That would be the idea of Celebrity Dogs on Ice developed by myself and my old housemate.
But this time… this time, I may actually go through with it. I’d quite like a nice garden, and I’d like to try and be a bit more self-sustaining, even if that’s only growing lettuces for the occasional egg sarnie, and corriander, and maybe a bit of rosemary.
But there’s one small snag to my plan for garden domination. Or rather six snags.
For as long as I’ve been living in this house, we’ve shared it with a fox. As foxes go, it won’t win any competitions, but we didn’t bother it and it didn’t bother us, which suited everybody. But, as with so many of these comfortable domestic arrangements, the issue of sex eventually caused friction.
Yes, the fox got itself a boyfriend or girlfriend and now our garden is home to four fox cubs. They’re four very cute fox cubs, but I’m not entirely over the moon at sharing my garden and the potential lettuce patch with four cute fox cubs and their mum and dad.
Thus far my options, as far as internet research goes, appear to be limited. The three most popular options appear to be shooting it, calling in the local hunt (which I’m sure would go down well in a terraced street) and pissing in your own garden to repel the fox. My neighbours already think I’m strange. I don’t want to give them further ammunition.
So, we’re currently in a stand off. The fox family on one side and me and my nonexistent lettuce patch on the other. At the moment there’s no clear winner.