Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Steve McQueening

I've banged-on enough about my veggie garden over the last year or so for you to get the picture that I really love getting amongst the compost and the loam; recycling my coffee grounds to prevent snails from getting into my luscious basil leaves and doing everything I can to coax my seedlings out of the earth, and to give those young 'uns the fighting chance they need to rise up from the filth to produce fine flowers and fruit. 

I guess you could compare my dedication as a gardener to the kind of teacher who, in sappy movies of say 15 years ago, would see promise in the misbehaving youth and, against all advice and opinions of their colleagues, would take this student under their wing, spend all their spare time tutoring them, and then, to everyone's complete amazement, have them shine at the end-of-term maths quiz or whatever.  Interestingly, the same relationship portrayed in more modern films would probably see the teacher completely vilified and possibly slapped with an investigation into inappropriate relations with a minor.  But I digress; there is nothing inappropriate about the tenderness and loving caresses I give my sweet, burgeoning tomato bushes and the tender kisses and playful licks I bestow upon my zucchinis of a summer evening – absolutely nothing!

To say that I just love getting out into the garden and doing a bit of digging and sowing is true, but not entirely.  It's true of the digging and sowing one does for one's summer crop, in about September or October, but it's definitely not true of May.  I friggin' hate the cold.  I hate the damp.  And I hate going to shit-loads of effort for average winter veggies such as bloody spinach and cauliflower.  So today, my plan was to get the job over with as soon as possible, and to get back inside to the warmth and the paper, pronto!

So I had a dump of dirt scheduled to arrive mid morning, and before that, I was out there, up to my ankles in the frigid filth, mixing stinking compost and rancid manure into what was left of the sodden beds.  Eventually the dirt arrived and I got to the back-breaking work of carting it across the yard and into the garden, only to realise after I was halfway through the pile that I had come a cropper (once again) to my meagre skills in mathematics – I had completely fudged the primary school-level mathematics equations for measuring volume in a right-angled wooden enclosure, and had ordered twice as much soil as I needed.

This soil having been dumped by the truck on my postage-stamp lawn, I couldn't leave the remainder there, and our entire yard being only slightly bigger than the lawn (comparatively, I'd say one of those postage stamps from the former Soviet Bloc countries is a pretty apt description), I was really in trouble.

So for the rest of the day, instead of being in my toastie-warm living room with a fresh coffee and the newspaper, I was walking around in the freezing, winter shadows trying to dispose of a little dirt here and a little dirt there – I felt like all those prisoners of war in The Great Escape, trying to dispose of the contents of three tunnels in little dumps here and there, right under the noses of the Germans.

I guess everyone, like me, if imagining themselves as a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany, pictures themselves as the rugged, all-American hero on the back of an Enfield, flying his way over a barbed-wire fence to freedom, rather than the short, chubby, British "Tommy" having to carry stinking dirt in his daks and divvying it out across the compound.  Indeed, reality really does bite!

Let's face it, I'm probably more likely to get the role of the barbed-wire, than the rugged, all-American hero.  Pic: http://www.coventrytelegraph.net

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