A fight with a rambling rector (and a thorny political metaphor)

THE heat is rising as I start my fight with the rambling rector. This is not a reference to the creepy cleric on Poldark with a foot fetish, but the name of the rose.

At least we think that’s that it’s called, as we didn’t plant the beautiful thug. It was here when we arrived and has possibly been here since dinosaurs roamed this part of York and unwisely trod on the thing.

In flower it is covered in a snowfall of white petals, but these are mostly gone now.

My wife is preparing to lay gravel nearby as I contemplate the thicket of thorns. What you need to know about this garden is that it is huge – 300-ft of tasks needing to be done. Being out here is my wife’s busy joy; and letting her get on with whatever needs doing while I read the newspaper and listen to music is my lazy joy.

But sometimes I do my bit – a bit that’s generally much shorter than her bit, but there you go.

I get the ladders and the cutter, and set to work, only that’s not the lopper but the shears, as my wife points out. Properly armed, I peer into the vicious bush that runs along a wall, goes over an arch and climbs into a tree.

I have been told to leave the new growth and cut away the older shoots. This is the sort of responsibility to bring a non-gardening gardener out in a rash. What’s new and what’s old? Then I see that the new shoots are bright green and don’t carry dead flowers.

I spend a couple of hours pulling, untangling and cutting. The falling sprigs leave scratches on the way down. After that another hour or so is spent tidying up the mess and trying to bag up the armed debris, a job that entails more scratches. This rector, like the one on Poldark, fights back. Even the lopped-off branches can still spring and snag. Soon my scratches have scratches.

This is a lot of gardening for me to manage in one go, and as I am easily distracted I begin to wonder. Firstly, I wonder why it is that some people like to find ways of staying busy while others don’t so much. A big garden is the perfect way to stay busy and is just the thing if you are the sort of person who’s always on the go while also feeling guilty about all the jobs you haven’t done.

If you didn’t have a big garden, there would be no need to worry about all the jobs that need doing. But then you wouldn’t have a big garden.

After such thoughts of unprofitable circularity, I begin to see that this thicket with its endless biting loops and armed branches might almost be a political metaphor. You spend ages trying to negotiate your way through something and all you end up with is red scratches and a sense of not having progressed very far.

Such are the observations of the non-gardening gardener.

The heat is rising and I am done. My wife surveys my handiwork. “You’ve done a good job there,” she says.

It’s a job only half done, as that rector still rambles. A return visit with the lopper and the ladders will be needed. More scratches to come, more prickles, spikes and barbs to be untangled before uncertain victory can be claimed.

And if that doesn’t sound like Brexit, I don’t know what does.

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