Sunday, March 28, 2010

Darth WHO?

‘Ah, oui,’ said the neighbour on the other side of our rampant leylandii… ‘That would be great!’

Oh Hell! Why did I ask?

Well, because they’re our leylandii, they’re growing at the rate of Woody Allen’s pudding in “Sleeper”…

(I should point out that the pudding in the film is doubling in volume every 3 seconds).

… and when I asked him last year he said Don’t worry - he’d take care of it. So I suppose I imagined...

This year, the trees have grown at a ridiculous rate, and in France it’s definitely the Owner of the Hideous Greenth who is responsible for obliterating it, specially on the neighbour’s side; I reckon we’re lucky he's never retaliated for our blocking out half his sun...

Any enthusiasm we have for gardening is in the less daunting tasks: George mows the grass and tramples mole-mountains; I rip out Brown things and stick in red and yellow and blue and variegated ones.

A gardener would be splendid but beyond budget, particularly one who does Trees. Such gifted artisans are regarded with Awe, and arrive Proudly Overendowed with accoutrements both terrifying and ear-splitting. And Very Large invoices.

We have been advised, by leylandii-neighbour and by an unbiased neighbour opposite who simply dreams of owning such an implement, to buy an electric Saw-on-a-Stick.

This sounds a little scarey to me – waving a pole around with an uncontrollable slicing thing on the end, surely demands Years of Training and indestructible body armour. I think all we have is a pair of goggles and an ancient horse-riding helmet. (Although they worked for Darth)...

And, we must do our duty.

After in-depth study of this week’s junk mail we have pinpointed the weapon. Tomorrow we shall sally forth to procure one, and later this week, when we have no students, no urgent appointments, and no more Excuses, we shall Lop these Fiendish Leylandii to within an inch of their very souls!!

And May The (Ground) Force be with us!

...(to appreciate the Full Hilarity of that jest, it might help to know that 'Groundforce' was a gardening programme well-beloved in the UK)
I realise it might not help...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Madame Doolittle, I presume...

“ ’allo? – Madame Doolittle?”

“…Ouiiii…” I confess cautiously.

There is a profound sigh on the end of the line, then someone pulls herself together and focusses on script:

Allow me to introduce myself, Mme Doolittle,” she rattles off Frenchly, “I’m phoning on behalf of EDF GDF Solar Water or One of those Powers-that-Be Anyway to offer you a rare and unmissable opportunity -” Large intake of breath “- This week, our representative will be in Your Back Garden offering Free Quotes on revolutionising the way you use Your Power-that-Be so When will you be in, Mme D?”

Hah! “That does not interest me!” I say and put the phone down brusquely - Just as our wise neighbour Adrienne has taught me.

Or at least, that’s what I mean to say.

But I can't. Instead I picture her with all the other Call-Centrees who phone to catch you in just as you’re savouring your lunchtime sarny.

There they quiver - ranks of shabby, despairing souls frenziedly working their way down each column of the phone book, microphones glued to their heads and keyboards bleeping as they flinch from fiendish Boss-with-a-big-stick.

How do they stand the constant rebuffs, the insults and the Permanent Failure… I just can’t bear the thought of making it worse…

So I say, “That doesn’t interest me For The Moment, I’m afraid... Well, no, I certainly don’t rule out the idea completely... No, next week wouldn’t be quite enough Thinking Time for me… Thank you for calling though - do you all work such long hours or are you on detention (ha ha)?... Hello? Oh dear, are you alright?"

At this point George is losing patience and angrily waving a forkful of saucisson & potato at me. "Will you please just hang up!" he hisses. His own method of halting sales flow is to say in appalling French, "Sorry, I'm English and I didn't quite catch that...", and they've Gone! (One day, we'll miss out on something that really WAS unmissable).

"Pardon?", I resume to teleseller with glaring shrug to George, "Oh, yes we are so, I'll let you get on now… Have you got many more to call? Right, well have a good rest-of-the-evening then… Hello? Hel- You’re not crying are you? Oh lord... oh..."

"Oh - Just Bugger Off!" I yell when I've put the phone down.

So, IS there a good way of dealing with this constant irritation? (for constant, it is). Do you snarl; do you chat while chomping on with your meal; try to sell them something, perhaps; play your kazoo at them... What do You do?

Because of course, you can't be too nasty to them - you never know if you're gonna come back as one...