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Flame Thrower Gardening

“…The therapeutic benefits of gardening are well documented. There’s nothing like strimming the strawberries, chain sawing the hedge and generally letting loose with power tools in the shrubbery to exercise the mind and invigorate the body. Plants survive most things, you know, as long as you don’t fiddle faddle about. Leave them be, that’s what I say, apart from the occasional hearty prune with a hedge trimmer, or one of those remarkable battery charged, swivel-bladed, Sunday Roast Carving Knives if there’s nothing else to hand.

I’d finished pruning the raspberries (last year’s wood), dug goose fat around the roses, and was using a pneumatic tamper to flatten the mole hills on the lawn while listening to ‘The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ on my MP3 Player when Bingo, an elderly war veteran of a like-minded disposition who often makes use of my dynamic gardening skills, hobbled from his conservatory flourishing a flame thrower. “For the garden,” he roared, waving the implement at me, “burn the weeds!” Now as luck would have it I had recently watched “Saving Private Ryan”, a war film starring Tom Hanks that features flame throwers as weapons of mass destruction (or ‘WMD’ for those of us who like an unintelligible abbreviation). Little did I suspect at the time that a flame thrower would be added to my arsenal of gardening equipment. Marvellous. It’s actually called a Weed Burning Stick (‘WBS’) or something like that, but in essence it’s a flame thrower. Twenty pounds from the local garden centre, two pound fifty for a screw on fuel pack that looks suspiciously like a deodorant canister, then Bob’s your Uncle, Fanny’s your Aunt, set light to all in sight - sizzle the Leylandii, scorch the weeds. It’s strictly for garden application only, of course, not for Granny’s Gazebo, the cat next door, or any other sort of untoward behaviour that somebody with an Anti-Social Behavior Order (‘ASBO’) to gain and a Clootie Dumpling (traditional Scottish pudding) for a brain might aspire to. I also discovered that it is remarkably easy to set fire to your own feet. I was wearing steel toe capped boots encased in a rubbery substance resembling leather when I set fire to mine and was alerted to the situation by a pungent stench. But if you’re wearing trainers, it’s a different story altogether. The plastic in the toe area bubbles, or so I’m reliably informed, followed by acrid smoke and a spontaneous ceilidh (dancing in a very Scottish way).

Thought for the day? Once burnt, lesson learnt. Aye, that’s it…”

( extracted from The Bit In The Middle: the curiously comic tale of a gardener in the Scottish Highlands )

Patrick Vickery

 

 

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