Sunday, June 15, 2003


by Suw on June 15, 2003

Sorry about the sudden lack of line breaks last night. I fiddled with some options without checking what the result would be! They're back now though. 😀

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Bye bye Brunching

by Suw on June 15, 2003

I'm quite sad to find out that Brunching Shuttlecocks has now closed its doors for good, although the archives are still up and worth reading. So many good memories of snarfing at my monitor in an otherwise silent open-plan office. So much involuntary snorting. And outright guffawing. Not to mention uncontrollable hysterics.

Sad, sad day.


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Attacking the wilderness

by Suw on June 15, 2003

I took my strimmer outside this afternoon, and introduced it to my garden.

?Garden? might actually be a bit of an exaggeration. If memory serves, the last time I did anything that could remotely be called ?gardening? was sometime mid Feb. Ish. The grass is now chest high and there are plants in there which are taller than me and can no longer be called ?weeds?. I think Shergar and Lord Lucan might be lurking somewhere near the mint, but that could just be a rumour.

The truth is, though, that I wanted to go outside so that I could wear my new shades and the only reason I could find to actually go outside was to strim. Sad, yes, but true.

I’m not one of nature’s born gardeners. Alan Titchmarsh might have famously green thumbs, but I have the Black Thumbs of Death. I can kill any plant you care to give me, faster than anyone else in the known world. Evil Chinese monks from clandestine mountain retreats come to me, furtively pretending to be market researchers, so that I may teach them eternally sacred methods for killing spider plants.

It’s true, some plants I’ve killed were weak in the first place. My beautiful Drusilla – a gorgeous bonsai Acer Japonicus – died after nothing more than a few hours in the midday heat. And that after I’d successfully nursed the damn thing through a harsh winter. Ungrateful birch. Er, I mean, bitch.

Then there was the bonsai’d Serissa, Tree of a Thousand Stars (which should have been called Tree of a Thousand Very Small Leaves Fallen On Your Carpet). Notoriously difficult to keep lush and verdant, but also notoriously difficult to kill. Not for me! Oh no, first I encouraged beautiful verdure in my Serissa, then I killed it stone dead. I think I swore within leaf-shot, and that was it. One dead bonsai.

My most recent kill was the ficcus I was given a few years ago as a leaving present from a job that, frankly, I was lucky not to get sacked from. Once it was a lovely plant. It had an attractively braided stem. Now it is food for, well, anything that loves a dead ficcus. I must remember to throw it out soon, rather than let it simply rot on my windowsill.

The only plant who has survived is Eric, a tall anonymous woody shrub-like thing which I bought from some garden centre at least twelve years ago. Eric has survived, not because I’ve taken good care of him, but because he seems to thrive on abuse. No watering for weeks, then a deluge as I guiltily notice his soil has dried up so badly there’s an inch between it and the side of the pot.

I have pruned Eric to within an inch of his life before, and he’s come through. I’ve repotted him several times, only to discover that he has no rootball at all, and he’s come through. I’ve gone on holiday and left him alone in the house for weeks, and he’s come through. I’ve sworn at him, and he’s positively flourished.

Which proves undeniably that there are masochists in the plant world.

So yes. Gardens. Me. Not a good mix. Not at all. I can’t think of anything more pointless than spending hours fannying about with plants which are simply going to die come the end of the year. Maybe it would be different if it were my own house, rather than a rented pad. Maybe then I’d see the gardening light. But until that day, or until I can afford to get gardeners in, my little plot is going to stay overgrown.

I consider it a wildlife haven.

Well, at the very least it’s a haven to which nextdoor’s cat, the sleekly black Hamish, can bring his latest friends for dinner. So far this year, two ducklings, a pigeon, three mice, a couple of rats and a small brown Richard the Third. Actually, I suspect it’s Hamish that leaves the other sort of small brown Richard the Thirds in my garden too.

But back to the strimming.

The strimmer I bought last year is pretty much a bog standard model, despite the packaging’s claims to the counter. Apparently:

The Reflex? cutting system instinctively replaces broken line – you don’t have to do anything at all.

Do Black & Decker know something I don’t? Ok, so I’m not top of the class when it comes to neural networks and such, but I’m pretty sure that I would have heard if someone had invented AI strimmers.

As far as I can tell, strimmers don’t need AI. They exist to do a fairly basic task, one which this particular strimmer achieved with ease. Their only function is to fling bits of pulverised vegetation at your legs with the kind of speed that ensures the drawing of blood. I mean, it was way too hot to wear jeans out there, even at 5pm, so I strimmed (strum?) in my sarong and t-shirt. And ended up with green and red legs.

(Ok, so maybe that’s not quite the case. They were more sort of geek-white with green and red speckles. I have spent most of my adult life trying to stay out of the sun in order to remain tan-free, and have succeeded admirably. Well, there’s just no point. Firstly, there’s no computer out there. Secondly, the only time I would ever tan is if my freckles merged. The best tan I ever had was just one big game of join-the-dots.)

I managed to clear the path a bit, so I can get out, and I hacked back some of the grass along the length of the washing line, so I can hang out my laundry to dry without being mugged by giant docks. Then I gave up cos my hands were suddenly numb.

Amazing how that happens. Ten minutes of grasping a vibrating strimmer and your hands have gone all strange. If coal miners got white finger from the vibrations of the machinery they were operating, surely serial strimmer users are at risk from white palm or something? And surely there’s a law suit in there somewhere?

(And that brings to mind another question, but it’s one I fear I can’t ask in polite company. Think about it though, and let me know by email.)

To be honest, I’m not sure if the strimmer actually cut anything down at all. I have a sneaking suspicion that it simply combed it all flat, and that when I get up tomorrow morning, each blade and stem of grass will have sprung up into its previous position, in one great big unholy shrubbery ?fuck you?.

I will be forced then to do what every single female of a non-gardening persuasion does in such situations. Sit back and wait for winter.

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