The home renovations continue apace.
I am, of course, incapable of doing any of the hard handy work myself and instead spend my time fretting about the colour of tiles and so forth like the effete so-and-so that I am. It is an insidious, all-consuming disease.
The thing that bothers most a latent reflector like me is the number of snap decisions that have to be made on a daily basis. I am a person who shudders every time the mobile phone rings. Just as I am not a Festival person, nor am I phone person. Yes, it runs that deep. What is even worse is when, at the other end of the phone is a perfectly reasonable and helpful person demanding answers. Now.
The other day, the builder rang asking the one question I have been running away from for the last five years: What are you going to do about the front garden?
The front garden has always been My Great Folly. To be honest, it was never anything less than an Unmitigated Disaster. Amusingly, the front garden was notionally "better" than the back garden. I had already given the nod to razing the back garden. They found a deadly snake and a number of mice. Yes, it really was THAT house on the street. Children and frail old people probably cross the street to avoid walking past my house and its travesty of a garden.
Given that I am preparing the house for rental, the builder sensibly suggested getting rid of everything in the front garden and replacing it with nothing but a square of lawn. Clearly he saw the front garden for the bitter tragic joke it truly was. I, however, was slightly affronted and incapable of making a snap decision. I therefore asked for an evening to think it over.
I got off the phone, feeling a mixture of embarrassment and wistfulness. I knew that the the builder was right. Left to its own devices, that garden would eventually take over and strangle any new tenants in their sleep. And I would not feel great about that. But memories of my cluelessness in trying to establish that hot mess made me feel sad. It brought back memories of a dogged lonely independent streak mixed with a naive optimism. All those hours spent lugging over-full buckets of bath water about, cursing the sky like some latter day Jean de Florette. It is hard to admit that any five year project has been, in fact, a monumental flop. But who could argue with the stringy sad-looking bushes and shrubs pressing awkwardly against each other with obvious distaste, like passengers on a peak hour train in summer? All those tall things in front of short things. All those tortured twigs stuck in bone dry soil. Not to mention the weeds. And the 'hidden' river rocks. Oh, I threw the rule book out the window like the crazy fool I am. And it showed.
Strangely, though, I was hesitant to dismiss the front yard just like that. I always scoffed at cookie-cutter gardens. I scoffed at neat rows of iceberg roses or agapanthi, at box hedges that smelled like cat-wee. I wanted something wild, unpredictable and so very "me". On one hand, I thought that if I persevered, eventually there would be more of the successful "trial" and "less" of the cringe-inducing error. On the other hand, I was probably using the garden as an expression of an almighty sulk: So, I can't afford the beautifully landscaped Eden of my dreams? Well, then, I will just plant any old thing I feel like. Just you watch me!
I slept on it. I woke up. I rang the builder. I told him to get rid of the lot and lay down his square of lawn. His pound of flesh.
There was, however, one proviso: that he leave a metre of mulch around the edges. This means that The Madness can, and will, begin all over again. I smiled and told him I would fill it with rows of agapanthi. Like a good boy. But nothing could be further from my mind...