Broken Shears

I woke a little before 8 this morning, and stared at the bedroom ceiling for a while before a switch of some kind flicked in my head. I hate that switch. Before I knew it I was downstairs with a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in my hand, headed towards the shower. After exiting the shower and downing a coffee, I found myself stood in front of the house, garden shears in hand, contemplating the task ahead.

Two runs of privet hedge. 30ft long, 6ft high. Urgh.

You might think it some kind of madness – to trim such a ridiculously large privet hedge with garden shears, but if you just bought an electric hedge trimmer six months ago and only discovered last week that the previous owner had cut the cable in half by accident, you too would have been standing there with a pair of garden shears too (well, unless you’re independently wealthy). I try to convince myself – while half-killing myself doing manual work – that it’s good for me. I do a desk job, so pushing our manual lawnmower (yes, we have a push-along mower), or cutting the hedges with shears is probably good for me. I tell myself this to avoid giving up and getting ranted at for never doing anything.

I was doing SO Well. And then as the universe is so reliable about, while half-way through the first hedge, one of the handles came loose on the shears. That’s strange, I thought, pushing it back on – they’ve never done that before. Then the other handle fell off. Hmmm. I started thinking. We’ve had these shears perhaps twenty years. We have never looked after them particularly – they get slung in the shed after being used. I wonder if the wooden handles might be completely and utterly rotten ?

My suspicions were answered an hour later, while half-way through the second hedge. There was a splintering sound while slamming the blades together again, and again, and again, and one of the handles shattered in my hand. I still had perhaps fifteen feet of hedge to cut. Dammit!

Luckily, a lady that lives several houses along wandered past with her dog, and distracted me from the temper tantrum before I could have it. While passing the time of day with her, I forgot all about the broken shears in my hand, and stood for quite some time making conversation. Normally I’m terrible at making conversation, but given the opportunity to avoid getting on with the hedge for a while, I became the most affable, interested, invested conversationalist I’ve ever known. Her husband wandered out after a while, remarking that he wondered why taking the dog for a walk had taken so long.

I finally made my excuses to exit the conversation, and wandered back to the half-cut hedge. It turns out if you’re really determined, you can cut a hedge with broken shears – I know, because I did it. It was kind of precarious at times – with further bits of wood splintering from the handle as I valiantly tried to hold the pieces in my fist, but I got there in the end.

After another ten minutes with the broom, sweeping up the off-cuts and lifting them into the recycling bin, the drive looked almost as good as the gardening nazi’s that live up and down the road from us. I tend to think they must spend every waking hour pruning their gardens with a magnifying glass. Our garden is more a case of “if you look from a distance, it’s kind of ok!” – and that’s good enough for me.

I did wonder why I bothered with a shower though, as I stood in the kitchen with a pint of blackcurrant squash, draped in a sweat-drenched t-shirt, picking bits of leaf from my hair.

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