Man’s world

Our South­ern cor­re­spon­dent’s machi­na­tions in his gar­den begs the ques­tion: is that a power tool at your hip, or are you just happy that it’s spring?

NZ Gardener - - Contents -

Our South­ern cor­re­spon­dent springs to life in a water blast­ing ad­ven­ture

Like a bear de­hiber­nat­ing, I shoved a sleepy muz­zle into the still cold air. My gar­den looked much as it had in au­tumn. But on the south side of the house, which had seen nei­ther me nor the sun since May, the path has gained a green tinge. I laid a cu­ri­ous Croc upon it and, well, I was still check­ing my hips for frac­tures when Heather came round.

“Hello Heather,” I said. “…No no, I’m fine. …No, I think it’s some­thing mi­cro­bial. Nothing a hard broom and a dose of bleach won’t shift.”

“Why don’t you bor­row my water blaster?” said Heather. “It’s great on slime.”

“Thanks, but she’ll be right,” I said, be­cause I’m the sort of chap who chooses not to be­rate his friends, even when they’ve wasted money on need­less out­door power tools that are used once then skulk at the back of the garage un­til they are re­dis­cov­ered when mov­ing house a decade later where­upon they take an im­me­di­ate and ir­rev­o­ca­ble one-way trip to the land­fill.

“Let me give you a hand up,” said Heather.

Bleach, it turned out, isn’t what it used to be. Time was when any­thing mouldy would shrivel at the sight of it, but my mi­cro­bials just shrugged it off. Brooms aren’t what they used to be, ei­ther. Five min­utes with a broom of mod­ern de­sign and I was pant­ing like a steam train. It’s some­times hard not to think hu­man progress has gone into re­verse.

“En­tirely hy­po­thet­i­cally,” I said to the wo­man at the hard­ware store, “and bear­ing in mind the fee­ble­ness of mod­ern bleach and broom, if the south side of your house were to be be­sieged with mi­cro­bials of an emer­ald hue, what would…”

“Come with me,” she said. The water blaster she took down from the dis­play had dinky wheels, a tow­ing han­dle, a de­liv­ery noz­zle like an M16, a Scan­di­na­vian name and a price tag of $299. “Your slime won’t know what’s hit it,” she said.

When I be­come em­peror I will re­quire any­thing that needs as­sem­bly to say NEEDS AS­SEM­BLY on the box in let­ters a foot tall. The one I ex­tracted from the box at home had dinky wheels, a tow­ing han­dle, and a de­liv­ery noz­zle like an M16 all en­closed in sep­a­rate plas­tic bags, each smoth­ered in ad­vice on how not to suf­fo­cate the chil­dren I haven’t got, but nothing on as­sem­bling my water blaster.

Root­ing deep in the box, I found a Bible-sized book­let of health and safety in­for­ma­tion trans­lated into ev­ery lan­guage known to man and from which I learned that the Dan­ish for “peo­ple with re­duced men­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties” is “per­soner med psykisk hand­i­cap.” Such peo­ple are not sup­posed to use a water blaster, and there seemed lit­tle like­li­hood that I ever would ei­ther, un­til I found a sin­gle sheet of pa­per cov­ered in hi­ero­glyphs, as on the side of a pharaoh’s tomb. “In­struc­tions for as­sem­bly,” it said. I don’t know what you’re like at de­ci­pher­ing hi­ero­glyphs. I proved some­thing of an Egyp­tol­o­gist. Barely three hours later I took the water blaster out­side and turned it on. Reader, it was a won­der. The en­gine roared, the dog hid and I found my­self hold­ing the op­po­site of a prostate prob­lem. Ev­ery man should have one. My mi­cro­bials whim­pered and were gone. I sought new tar­gets, gut­ted drains, flensed con­crete, slew weeds. And as I pow­er­cleaned the world, this old bear came alive with po­tency, his ur­sine loins aflame with the re­turn of spring.

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