Sailing with Mozart

Wednesday August 10, 2005

I had a grand couple of hours in the garden this morning—three half-hour work periods with breaks in between—clipping and tidying up the grass and weeds along the footings of the hedges and shrubs in the front garden.

I’m much enamoured of my new long-handled shears, cheap though they were. They allow me to operate at a comfortable standing position and to feel around before snipping, avoiding damage to the bark of the hedge itself. It’s quiet, steady work, rather like using edging shears around a lawn, and that’s a job I’ve always enjoyed, too. To an extent, I’m working blind, and have to step back several paces to check I’ve got everything that ought to be got. If I were a handy-man, I’d fix a small mirror close to the bottom of the handle so’s I could check more easily. Sort of a reverse periscope. There’s a good little idea for some entrepreneurial spirit in the tools for the less than able field.

Three sessions were enough for me, though, getting the front garden done and tidied away. I packed up for lunch, all satisfied and happy with myself, thinking I’d make a start on the back garden after my nap.

Sad to say, it was raining softly when I woke, and continued on into the evening, ruling out any further garden work for the day. No matter. At least I know I can do it now, at a pace that suits, and I can get the back and side garden done over the next few days as weather permits.

It’s a strange thing, this. I truly enjoyed being out there, and take some pride that I’ve made the front garden all neat and tidy. Yet, if I had my preference, I’d much rather have an overgrown, ill-kempt garden, complete with the wild-flowers that, here, are re-classified as weeds, and with paths and patches kept clear for access and enjoyment. I’m not daft, though, and I know full well that a tidy garden is much less work than anything wild would be, quite apart from the question of neighbours who tend not to approve. The best you can do, and it’s becoming socially acceptable now, is to keep a wild corner where seed-heads are left for the birds, and a rampant growth is maintained to provide cover for small creatures to enjoy.

Looking at the hanging baskets, so lush and attractive until a couple of weeks ago, I think I’m going to have to take a trip to the garden centre, pick up a few trays of new flowering plants and make them over. They’ve done pretty well but the soil is exhausted now and the existing plants are very close to the end of their season. There’s one of those giant ‘world-of-gardening’ places on the way to Skegness, with good parking and a proper lunch room. I shall steal a day off soon and go see what they have to offer.

The agent called to say that the last viewers loved the house but felt the garden was too small for their needs. Fair enough. I rather suspected that might be the case.

The first lot of viewers seem to be harder to catch and to pin-down for a decision either way. The woman was to go into hospital for a double hip operation last week and in spite of their feeling that she’d be on her feet and back in control very quickly, I reckon they were being over-optimistic. There’s still a chance they’ll be back in business, and in great haste, for they said they’d already got a buyer and were on the point of instructing solicitors. Can’t say I’d want to be doing house selling and buying and coping with a major operation all at the same time, even with Graham to carry the burden, and the bloke didn’t seem to me to be the most worldly of chaps at the best of times.

Hey ho. I wish both couples success, and look forward to another set or two turning up on the doorstep here soon.

“Thanks for letting me know, M.,” I said to the estate agent. “Keep up the good work.”

“Right,” he said, rather glumly, knowing full well that time is running out for him and that if they don’t produce a viable buyer in the next couple of weeks I’ll be demanding they pull down their sign to make way for a new one, from another agent.

I suppose I feel a little sympathy. Not much, though, because they gave me bad pricing advice and, until now, have done nothing but sit on their hands since we went on the market early in May. Besides, though individual employees may be pleasant enough, no-one in my experience goes in for a lot of sympathy where estate agents are concerned. I reckon it’s a lot to do with the over-generous quantities of gel they apply to their hair.

And then, Dolly and I settled down to a pleasant, quiet evening and an early night. I’m enjoying the change in routine, having dinner early, and popping off to bed well before midnight, even if it does mean I’m up and about in the small hours. It’s a lot better to be up and about than to be laying restless in bed, looking at a darkened ceiling and wondering if sleep will come back again. BBC Radio Three does a good all-night classical music broadcast I am coming to love. Sailing with Mozart through the dark hours is a pleasant, safe thing to do.



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