This weekend we took a trip down to the mother-in-laws, she lives in a little village at the bottom of mount Olympus, home of the gods and my mother-in-law, connection purely coincidental I assure you. We arrived bedraggled by our long haul, well, hour and half’s drive to be greeted by her usual hospitality of make yourself a coffee I’ve had a hard day in the field. She works on the five visits then you’re home rule, believe me when I tell you that I’ve done my utmost not to reach that number of visits but a good number of them were taken up with wedding preparations. Anyway I must mention that my mother-in-law, despite having the usual ravages of time bestowed upon her and five fused vertebrae, insists on maintaining her two acres of garden in a way that some deal with a karmic debt with added bragging rights.
“Ah, good, you’re here,” a good start to a conversation you might think but I knew better. “A couple of trees need trimming at the bottom of the field.” told you. “Would you mind?”
“Of course,” if only I could. “I’ll do it.”
After a night wrestling a couch for comfort rights and losing I awoke, or at least roused myself from lethargy. The sun was already threateningly high and I knew that Colombia’s (legal) annual national product was not going to make me feel more awake so clapped my hands and egged on the task at hand. M-i-L produced an electric chainsaw and a series of extension leads that would reach the two hundred metres between the house and the trees which turned out to be thirty-foot pines of which she wanted ten foot trimmed from the top. Surveying the chainsaw with trepidation seeing as the closest I usually get to power tools is dabbling with Photoshop and having seen too many scary movies that feature rotating blades. Fortunately or unfortunately the chainsaw didn’t work so she gave me a hand saw that looked like one of those marvellous gizmos from the shopping channel that promises to be the answer to all your needs until it devolves into two pieces that you don’t .
So there I am playing lumberjack with a bread-knife and a wonky ladder in a scene that could only be described as a mix of a spaghetti western, deliverance and the chandelier episode of only fools and horses.
I cut down three or four tree tops before I noticed the solar heating panels in the next garden but I was cutting with an angle slopping toward M-i-L’s garden. What could possibly go wrong? Those of you, like me whose physical prowess reaches to nonchalantly carrying your laptop in one hand will understand the pride when, after a little physical labour, you realise that under your skin is a layer of firm tissue somewhat like muscle. I continued cutting actually starting to enjoy the labour, I even stopped at the point where she had asked me to do and decided after a glass of water to continue above and beyond the call of duty. The water barely touched the sides on account of the fact that my body was no longer 70 odd percent water and my sweat glands had developed into a sprinkler system. So stripped to the waist and soaked Y-fronts I carried on sawing.
It was a top of about seven feet tall that started to fall backward pinching the saw so I couldn’t move it. I fought to free the bread-knife which was when things took a turn for the pear-shaped, the remaining wood cracked and TIMBER! It was on its way headlong into the next field, my buttocks clenched in tense impotence and CRASH! It landed a few short feet from the solar panel. I may have wet myself but I couldn’t be sure.
I’d like to tell you, for comedic purposes, that the branch rolled and smashed the panel but it didn’t. I’d like to tell you that my M-i-L was livid with me and made me feel unworthy of her daughter but she didn’t and she wasn’t, in fact she appreciated the fact that I’d done so well without decent tools.
So, my advice is when you relationship with your mother-in-law needs a polish cut some trees down. She even got out the good china for lunch.