I once lived with a river at the bottom of the garden, quite a good one, with salmon passing through, dippers and otters. Whenever I decided to procrastinate, I would pick up the fishing rod that lay on the bank and cast a questing fly in the direction of Algernon, a small trout, or his neighbour whose name I have forgotten, that lived in an eddy behind a rock. I would quite often catch him and tenderly put him back till next time.

Here my equivalent is weeding the lawn. I hadn’t really taken much notice of it until an early visitor said something irritatingly snotty about its quality. So I decided to do something about it and bought a dagger-like tool. The first weeds I tackled were those that were prickly. Once it was safe to sit down, I moved on to dandelions. Then a couple of species with tenacious roots that I have never bothered to identify – and so on. A breakthrough came when a visiting native said in surprise ‘une pelouse anglaise’ when he came through the gate. I must have recently chucked most of the dog turds over the hedge. This year I no longer have to spend an hour tackling a couple of square metres but am merely picking off stragglers. Should I move on to daisies?

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