I travelled over to Leicester yesterday to see my folks, the first time in months, and leaving the snow covered concrete like clay behind me on the top of the hill at the end of the world where I now live, to say I was worried about the temperature would be an understatement. Since moving to this modern box, on top of the hill, my resistance to cold weather and the actual cold, has been shattered due to the underfloor heating which we have no idea as to how to control, theres a glitch in the matrix, i know how things work, but ours is faulty and waiting for the engineer to return after diagnosis is like waiting for My Mum to understand that everyone under retirement age is out to get her.
Fortunately Brunters was warm, the sun was out, slightly blowy but positively tropical at about 10’C. The reason I popped over was to pick up the cushions for the outdoor furniture which bizarrely I left in their outbuilding along with my books, slowly dampening down and various other bits and bobs which I can not throw away for reasons beyond my understanding, throwing them out is not an option and will probably never happen, I’ll leave that to the kids. So tea on the patio, ham salad sandwich with salad cream (standard) and a chat about how to treat the oak table I made them which they put outside and is now showing signs of cracking, the car loaded up with cushions and some old goth records which have remained in situ in my old bedroom for decades despite many embarrassing dance records having the bottom shelf in my record collection here in my modern box.
Dad asked me to start his mower, as he is having a little trouble with the pull start; first time and it roared into action. Dad, the most prodigious lawn mowing talent in my book, famous throughout his peer group drawing comments such as
“How do you keep your lawn so pristine Michael?” and “Nice lawn Mike” left me standing, guarding the mower as he stumbled off to get his mowing gloves, I suspect they were his driving gloves but I also suspect he’s probably not driving anymore as he’s looking really frail these days and to be hulking a massive car around the country lanes at 86 would be dangerous and irresponsible right? Lets face it he hasn’t been able to feel his legs (always numb he says) for around 10 years now and the same is happening with his hands, poor fella. Can still manage the odd glass of wine occasionally, by closing his hand around the stem of the glass with the other hand until it “looks right”. But I digress, and after 5 minutes he returns, his hair wild, in the increasing wind velocity, the hair not tucked into his cap. And off he went.
I shouted at my Mum for 20 minutes or so, she can’t hear very well, I wasn’t angry, but its exhausting, shouting at my age for sustained periods of time does get rather tiresome. We just about managed to come to a fractured understanding of what the kids were doing right now; the youngest: playing footy in the park and playing on the X-box, the oldest: college work and taking selfies. Then the seminal lawn mower man returned, hobbling across the lawn to us, he had a stroke about 20 years ago, and it knocked him about a bit, but at 86, at least he’s able to get out and mow his beloved lawn. The pull start is an issue, so I suggested an electric starting mower, but he’s got other, grander ideas. He needs a sit on mower, which mulches the grass clippings; spits them back out, so he doesn’t have to take the clippings down to the bottom of his field where he’s dumped them for decades, and the sit on bit because, well his walking isn’t very good these days. In principle its a great idea, but a a couple of thousand pounds i can’t help but thinking this is a mower too far, he’ll have 3; One he can’t start, another he cuts the field with and the third outlined above. Much as I hate to admit I did feel a modicum of disquiet when he was telling me his plan. The Olds, are indeed, getting really old, and much as I don’t want to tell him that it might be easier and cheaper to get some one in to mow the lawn, I know that when he did have someone in to mow his lawn in the months after his stroke, he hated it. He hated the fact that he couldn’t talk to tell the mower man he was doing it wrong, and he hated the fact that he was having to pay someone to run the lines in the wrong direction. I believe that in the spring after his summer stroke he worked his bollocks off to get back upright, and talking to regain and retain control of his beloved lawn. So to see the options available to him shrinking back before his eyes to possibly just a really expensive mower mainly used on golf course fairways and municipal parks is probably the last throw of the dice. Mum’s not pleased, suggesting he use the field mower, he just says,
“No, no, no. You don’t understand”
I think I understand, so for now i’ll say to him to get his mower, if he can get a used one, but being a loyal man will only go to his special mower shop man who he’s been using for 40 years. There is a case for the simplicity of this and the denial of the use of the internet, and when I suggested looking for one for him on line, was met with a dark stare and blank refusal. Bless him.