Gardening Leave (OS017)

After coming back from the local shop, a stranger met me in the kitchen and said “Someone had telephoned, from the biscuit factory, asking for you.”

“Sorry, do I know you” I asked.

She replied, “No…..The line was really bad but she said she realised you’ve been to hell and back, then something about gardening leave and that you are not to worry. She has you on the radar, just kicking it round and cooking up a few ideas. They’re confident of coming up trumps. Keep your pecker up and don’t burn your bridges or throw the baby out with the bathwater. You’ll be knocking the ball out of the stadium in no time.”

At that moment Pam entered the kitchen and said “Oh, I hope you don’t mind. The phone rang and I was removing a pigeon from my bedroom, so I asked Ann to answer the phone.”

Many questions sprung to mind but it was clear that I was supposed to know Ann. I thought I’d tackle them later.

“You do know Ann, don’t you? From number thirty six. You know married to Eric Onymous. You know Eric don’t you. Has the old Norton with a sidecar. You can’t miss him.”

Clearly, I have. Somehow, I vaguely know what a sidecar is, from watching the documentary about the residents of the Holmfirth village called ‘Last of the Summer Wine.’

“Oh, you mean that motorised tricycle. Sounds like a road drill on wheels. Oh! that’s Eric. Of course.”

Daydreaming for a moment I recalled visiting Holmfirth with my mother once. The satnav was faulty as we ended up in Upperthong. Mother said “I expect it’s a bit too rural for your navigation thing to work.” I did explain about geostationary satellites and how it triangulated your position within several metres “.  I’m not sure my mother was greatly interested as she interrupted with “Yes dear. Oh! look at the hay stacks.”

Coming back to reality, I turned to Ann to say “Nice to meet you” but Ann wasn’t there.

“Bit rude Oliver”

Not sure why but undeterred, I asked about the call.

“I think it must have been the HR manager, Helen Back. Weird call. Any Idea what she wanted Pam?”

“Not sure. Play some sport, five a side, rounders maybe? If HR is ringing, it could be to see how you are, or maybe they want you back.”

“Well, if you knew Helen Back, you would know it’s not to see how I am and the second is a nonstarter. No way am I going back.”

The mention of gardening leave did give me an idea though. I do have something that I was meaning to do. There’s a spare flagstone propped up in the garden. It’s been there from when I bought the house. It’s been on my mind for years. I should do something with it, as I’ve got quite a lot of time on my hands. I booted up PowerPoint and Excel on the laptop and got to work planning how to use the spare flagstone.

Several hours and several episodes of the Chelsea Flower show later I had a plan. Curved paths looked to be the answer. Leaving a gap between each flag filled with pebbles looks good. Apparently, it promotes mindfulness (avoiding tripping and going head first into the roses no doubt). That way I could add an extra path in front of the house and use the extra flagstone.

Needless to say, the work was hard and treacherous. One flag slipped off the crowbar and I thought another visit to A&E may be needed. Fortunately, no real damage, just an interestingly coloured toe.

Laying flags is one of the jobs I really dislike. They never seem to line up with the one next to it. You lift it, add a bit more concrete and this time the other corner is low so you lift it again. I must lift each flag four or five times. Why do they not show that on Garden Rescue?

When moving another flag, I was attacked by a bee. Loud bee I thought until I looked down and saw dozens of them. Apparently, they sometimes burrow under flags and make their home. They clearly didn’t approve of my path re-design and one proceeded to chase me round the garden. Fortunately, no stings, just a few scratches where I dived into the bush to avoid the pursuit.

Finally, all the flags were laid, roughly level. Just need to add the pebbles between the flags. Five bags should be enough. It wasn’t. A couple more bags. Still not enough. Eight bags later, I gave up. Near enough.

Pam came out to check the work. “What do you think?” I asked. “Good” she replied. “Have you got a spare to replace the broken one?”

It would be great to hear from you. Drop me a comment (at the bottom of the page). Just some thoughts on possible subjects but feel free:

  • Tell me about your confusing phone calls.
  • What jobs have you been putting off for years?
  • What jobs do you love / hate?


… Oliver Sudden

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The Visitor (OS016)