Way over a year overdue, and not for want of trying, we finally secure the services of a garden guy. The old ones have retired; the ones we ask to quote tell us prices which bear no resemblance to the figures in our heads – or anyone’s. One man who agrees to the job just never shows up. I even invest in a high-reach trimmer, and although, wobbling and whimpering, I make some inroads, and manage to keep the neighbours onside, the hedges are grown too far beyond my reach. This garden guy we find by chance, by great good luck. His name is Guy.
We talk, as we work (cos it’s part of the deal that I collect the brash) about the nature of self-employment; of pricing and the perils-but-importance of turning down certain opportunities – saying ‘Thanks, but no thanks’, basically. We talk about Cornwall. Cabbages. Kings. His dog is with us too.
And at some point I lose my knife. A Swiss Army Climber Edition, gifted by B. a decade ago. Loose and alive in a gaping pocket, else (like me) shallowly slipped into dungarees, my beloved knife – detailer of little wood houses, perfecter of pencils and brushes – is not any place it should or could be when the time comes to return indoors. My immediate worry (beyond the immediacy of the loss) is that it’s lying somewhere within reach of young children; the neighbour’s side where we took off the vast and shed-eating freak of hedge and elder (see photo). For an hour I check. It’s the last hot, stupidly hot, day of the year. And there’s no knife.
B.’s as upset as I am, but more philosophical with it.
I text back and to with Guy, and not just about the totes-worth-it payment. Given the bulk of brash we lugged, lobbed and loaded onto the flatbed, I have to use phrases like ‘chance in a million’, and ‘feel daft for asking’. Destined for a bonfire, ‘the farmer’ is referenced also in the texts; and I’m aflame with embarrassment anew at the idea that another grown-up is going to be asked to look for my little red knife. The messages then stop there.
Then at the weekend, a missed call from Guy. I call him back and, like some crazy lo-rent version of The Crystal Maze, he directs me where to look in our own back yard. The blue tin cup on the wooden shelves, he says; look in there. My knife is in there. A little red knife in a blue tin cup. B.’s in the kitchen, so she gets to see all this too.
Guy tells me that when he came to unload the brash, the knife was right there, up against the tailgate. Agitated to the edge, I guess, through and under the greenery – and a heap of new stuff from a job after ours – as his trailer travelled home.
We exchange expressions to do with Good Karma. And great good luck. I was with my parents – Dad at his care home – when he came round with the knife. The nice theatrics, therefore, of the blue tin cup happened.
And so the skies are opened. The weekend spreads itself ahead and the weather changes.