We have decided to cut down the scope of our garden work to two elements, hedge cutting and trimming; and mowing. I noticed that I am slightly uneasy on my feet these days so we cannot be over ambitious. Francoise is always available to hold a ladder if I have to climb one. I am definitely the world’s worst person with regard to heights because I can’t even stand on the top of a ladder without getting some vertigo.
I had today what I would call the ideal job for my gardening situation at the moment. The customer lives nearby, in Chilcompton, and we had done work for them last year. As I have said before, I only do work for people if I feel comfortable with them and the last job I did for them was a pleasure. It consists of a large front hedge which is actually a hybrid as it has many elements to it. I am familiar with it as we had trimmed it last year. This year, nature has been very much being prolific with hazelnuts being added to the mix.
My customer was a well traveled Irishman and although he did not display it to the full I’m sure he has the gift of the gap as do so many Irish. I like their sense of humour, their literacy and their inquiring minds. In case you did not know, the phrase Gift of the Gab goes back to the Blarney Stone. Head to Blarney Castle and kiss the stone, if you do so you would be granted the Gift of the Gab, a ‘silver tongued eloquence beyond measure’.
The word gab is of mixed derivation, it can be just the action of talking or chatter, but also falsehood and deceit but originally in the 12th century a gibe or a taunt. The Blarney Stone presumably brings out the best of human nature within this remit.
I asked after his wife as she been the visible customer last time. He said that she had a big problem with her hip which was almost useless and she was hobbling around like an old woman. He told me that although they were covered by private health insurance, they still needed a doctor from the National Health Service to sign a form to verify her condition before they could take her on. The wife had the X-ray 6 weeks ago and they were assured that it would take only two weeks to get a signature but nothing has happened to date.
During the garden work I thought about this and I suggested that he should ask the hospital if there was anything they had not done, or failed in any way? This might activate what remains of their humanity and compassion to get a better result. I said they were unlikely to get a quicker result by complaining or threatening.
Anyway back to the job in hand.
There is often more to a hedge than meets the eye. It is quite rare to have a hedge that is composed of just one genre, privet for example. If thee is a mixture you have to treat different genres in different ways allowing for their individual growth habits. If a hedge has not been treated for a long time it needs to be reshaped and this is a slightly different skill set from trimming it. Trimming is the easy part; shaping requires time so if I tend to a hedge I should tend to it at least twice a year one in late spring and one in September or October and probably three times a year would be ideal.
If there is a lot of overgrowth, I find I need to cut once, leave it and then cut it again. Even 30 minutes later is enough for the branches to settle in a new position where you can see where you should cut. I always say that if you know how to give a hair cut, you can be a good hedge cutter. The same principles apply, well almost.
We did the job and it was duly inspected. Before that I had another chat with him about the state of the country (UK). He had lived in Dublin but decided that as there was not much going on there, that the streets of England particularly London were paved with gold this would be a good time to move and that was in the 80s. Things have changed since then.
He told me that he had worked in Africa extensively and particularly in Kenya. He said that many Europeans were thinking of settling there permanently because of the better social conditions, and the culture. Francoise asked me afterwards if the health care in Kenya was up to standard. I had previously talked about people who were thinking of leaving the United Kingdom because it was going to be unlivable what with the refugees and so on. The Mayor of London was not serving the people, but outside interests.
This job was ideal for many reasons. It took between two and two and a half hours which is about right for our energy level at the moment. The customer was very pleasant, on my wavelength, and we had a good rapport. We seem to have agreed the amount that was due almost telepathically because when he suggested a certain sum, it was the amount that I was going to ask for anyway. I feel we did a really good job, the weather was less warm and sticky in the morning than it would have been in the afternoon so we got the timing right as well. All in all a very nice way of helping to pay the bills. As I have previously said, if you don’t like the person or their attitude is negative it really does make it a job of work and takes away energy and joy. Who needs that?
I know that some people have to suffer this sort of condition at work on a day to day basis and I sympathize with them. I suppose if you have an unsympathetic boss who has a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude there is not much you can do. This was how unions developed in the first place but that’s another story. The problems are more extreme in other parts of the world – on the surface anyway.