It’s fair to say I’m knackered.
I spent around about eight hours at mums, seven of them doing stuff and one of them just putting pieces in a jigsaw she’s been “doing” for almost a year. Well, that and having lunch.
I’m reassembled her garden pond. I’ve put her benches out. Moved the bird table. I’ve done things that should, hopefully, get her loving her garden more than she did. Which wouldn’t be hard because she hated everything about it when she last brought up the subject.
I also tackled the issue of the nettle patch which had been beautifully cultivated in a place which blocked off access to any harvestable berries and posed something of a slow, stinging, death trap to anyone trying to go past them.
Obviously, you can’t get at them directly. The world, and my mum’s garden doesn’t work like that. You should be able to get there directly. But the way is blocked by pots moved when the new decking was put down and as that’s not actually technically finished yet because they’re dicking around and not doing the stuff they should be doing (which is why there’s a hole outside the polytunnel which mother will, at some point, topple into) we can’t put them back because they bit there would go on is supposed to be removed and concrete put in its place.
My breath is not held.
So I had to go round the polytunnel, against the fence. Which wasn’t too bad because mum had already been along and cut back all the bushes and trees along there.
Unfortunately she had not tackled the holly, and I was stabbed to buggery as I emerged behind the tunnel.
Cue nearly two hours of cutting back the holly so that everything that can and will inflict pain is now above head height and outside of the radius of a swung arm. There was a lot of holly. A ridiculous amount. And some of it just took the piss. A massively long branch with nothing on it, then a few leaves at the end. No. You’re going. I don’t have time for this nonsense.
So I did that. Onward to the nett…. wait? What? Brambles? In a pot? Okay, so mother is growing brambles for some reason. And now they have me. I just cut them all back. I can’t see them being vital to anything. I had to cut them anyway, otherwise they would still have my trousers.
And then onto the nettles.
Which is where I got smug. The nettles were about three or four feet tall, so I was cutting each one and transporting it carefully – in the grip of the cutters – to a bucket, where I would cut it up smaller for disposal. I did quite a few like that, and got off scot free. Not a sting to be had. Hahaha, I have thwarted you nettles!
No. Karma is a bitch.
I went for the next one and, somehow, got in a position where my left thumb was pressed directly into an as yet untackled nettle. And, to make matters worse, it was in a position which meant any movement inflicted more pain.
It still tingles now, I’ll be honest. And I did it about five hours ago.
We used to have a neighbour called Daniel, when I lived at my parents, who once tripped running down the back lane and flew, head first, into a huge patch of nettles. He had to be bathed in calamine lotion, I believe. He also, once, rode his bike into a drain cover and was catapulted over the handle bars to smash into the surface of the road. That bit’s not relevant, it’s just to make me appear less clumsy.
Anyway, I imagine my pain was nothing compared to Daniel’s.
I did swear. I did shout “Fuck and Buggeration!” extremely loudly. It did hurt. There’s no two ways about it. I tried to count each individual welt to work out how many times I’d been stung, but by the time I got around to that they were starting to merge into one subcutaneous misery patch. I still counted over twenty, and that was with them joined up.
That, though, was the floodgate for stings.
From that moment on every remaining nettle got me at least once. They’d swing round as I gripped them in the cutters and sting me from a direction I wasn’t expecting. The remaining stems would get me as I went for the next one. And when it came to digging up the roots, the remaining pieces of stem became lethal weapons. But that was mainly because the key for the tool cupboard was inside and I couldn’t be bothered to circumnavigate the tunnel so I was digging them up with a crappy little fork and trowel.
But hey ho. I won.
Now mum can pick blueberries to her heart’s content (as long as she goes the long way) without any sort of injury.
I got hurt so she doesn’t have to.
What an amazing son I am.
Seriously, though, it’s still stinging…