Picture the scene. Easter Sunday, early morning. Drowsily lying beside your beloved, you exchange chocolate strewn kisses and promises, whisper eagerly of shared baths and breakfasts. In the distance, faint birdsong, bees buzzing, add a gentle chorus to your contentment.
Then it begins.
The angry, industrial shriek of a strimmer. A lawnmower roaring into life. The suburbs have awoken, and, it being a bank holiday, have set about destroying nature.
It’s 8am, and all around you power tools are thrusting and throbbing in the hands of short fat angry old men, like a metaphor for something that entirely escapes me. They say Britain is a nature of gardeners: in truth, we’re a nation of butchers. We want to see nature captured, tidied, bent to our will.
Bees, birds and butterflies die and dwindle in number, while we eagerly destroy the plants that sustain them. Slice the life out of that lawn, as early as you dare, and if it has the audacity to present you with a dandelion, rip the brute up and replace it with plastic. Plastic, grass!
Yes, that makes total sense. Not as if there’s enough plastic in the oceans or landfill or billowing in the trees: let’s cover the earth with it too. That’ll teach those pesky birds and bees who’s boss.
God rot them, trying to live their messy lives, needing to eat and reproduce. Nuke the life out of their natural habitat, every sunny evening and weekend. You could be lying about enjoying the sunset, applying yourself to a fascinating novel beside an icy margarita, copping a feel of your loved one, but instead you turn your time and attention to destroying wildlife. That’ll make you feel the big man, eh?
And the size of those power tools! Shrubs like lollipops, strimmers like samurai swords. Are they really all trying to compensate for something? And if so, why my neighbourhood? I live near a man who refuses to talk to his neighbour because he won’t cut his grass sufficiently short; another trying to poison a tree because it “spoils the view”. That must be the view of other anally tidy, tedious lawns, I assume. There’s certainly nothing else to see round here. No bees or butterflies, or people quietly enjoying their surroundings. They’ve all been terrified away by the row.
Why do we all lead such perpetually terrified lives, worried our neighbours despise us?
Newsflash: your neighbours almost certainly do despise you, however neat your garden. We all live too close to one another to be anything but infuriating. They’ve heard the clinking empties in your recycling bin, however gingerly you slip in that last wine bottle; the screaming abuse you mete out to your children every weekday morning. Killing a few plants won’t make them like you. Give up the fight and bask in your squalor.
My garden is a tip. All weeds and overgrown grass, crawling with insects, birds, bees, neighbours’ cats, children, sunbathing lovers: half-drunk glasses of merlot, half-drunk friends and relations.
I own no power tools, and if I ever acquire one, feel free to run me through with it. Nature was here first. Without it we’re lost. Use your excess energy to create, not destroy. And please, in future, leave me to my chocolatey lie in.