Thursday, February 21, 2013

Enemies in the shrubbery

You know how it goes. It’s a cold but sunny Sunday afternoon, and you start getting the guilt.

Your other (most would say better) half is slaving away outside, lopping off dead branches, scooping up fallen leaves, scraping away alluvial mud while you – yes you – are lounging idly in the armchair.

There’s nothing for it but to join the fray. Out at the front is a grumpy looking shrub that was decorative in its infancy, but is now excluding 30 per cent of the natural light from the sitting room window. And it needs your immediate attention.

Some lubricant, yesterday
Wield the garden shears. The blades rattle suspiciously, rather than making that “ker-snick” noise that all good shears are supposed to make. Apply lashings of 3-in-1, attempt to tighten. Fail. Try again with WD-40. Fail. Wonder idly why lubricants have names like internet banking passwords rather than something meaningful like “Un-Sticko”.

Shears are past redemption. Grab shiny new long-handled pruner. Attack shrub with gusto. And the imagination starts to wander.

The knotty branches of shrubbus subwindowensis are the things you love to hate. Misplaced apostrophes. Snip. The word “iconic” as over-used by the BBC. Snip. The phrase “Methinks” in comments on websites. Snip. “It’s” when it should be “Its”. Snip. Vice versa. Snip

“Your” when it should be “You’re”. Snip. “There” when it should be “Their”, or “They’re”. Snip. Emails without subjects. Snip. And worse, and worse – unimaginably worse.
Those garden recycling bags in full

“Hugh!” The dream is shattered as Mrs D lugs a seventh recycling bag of gardening debris round from the back of the house. “You’re not killing that shrub, are you?”

This isn’t a shrub, darling. This is a viper’s nest of grammatical, orthographical and syntactical errors. And now it’s correction time.

Mrs D is not convinced. But where there’s life – or at least a few dispirited leaves clinging to the denuded stems – there’s hope. Nothing that a light dusting of fish, blood and bone meal won’t cure.

All is forgiven. The twigs are gathered up into an eighth and ninth recycling bag (Bath and North East Somerset Council made a killing out of us this week at £1.50 a pop), and as we relax in our lighter, airier sitting room, there’s just one fly in the ointment.

 “Hugh! That window needs cleaning.” Ah well – onwards and upwards.

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