Tooled up


Another milestone coming up – the first barbecue of 2011 is scheduled for the weekend. Presumably we won’t be alone. Supermarket shelves will be stripped of beer, Pimm’s and fire accelerant (Now That’s What I Call A Party Mix: 35) and all of south London will smell of burning.

Last weekend was spent in the great outdoors as well; the opening 50 per cent of it, anyway. Sunday was spent gibbering over untidy heaps of printed matter as I grappled and slithered off the sumo of revision. The nearest I can get to my MO of squeak, rush and dither is Beaker in the Muppet Show – a comparison that never fails to make me laugh and stop panicking, for a second or two.

Budennyway, Saturday had been handed over to Birkbeck in a slightly different capacity, as I had volunteered to help sort out the department garden. I arrived at half 11 to find the ambitious plans still on the drawing board, but about to be realised by a bunch of they-said-they’d-be-here enthusiastic amateurs.

Once we were quorate, someone with a glorious disregard for safety hopped up onto a crumbly wall with a  saw to ‘cut back’ a tree, steadying himself on the limbs he was sawing through while leaning forward and standing on one foot. The forsythia took it like a man, but I’m not sure it’s going to bounce back any time soon, with four-fifths of it reduced to stumps. We mulched, built raised beds, ferried sacks of compost around, mixed earth, planted, staked and swept. And, unbelievably, we transformed the place in a day.

Over pints afterwards the lecturers explained that they’d been given the topsoil by London Wildlife Trust who sent them off to a site behind St Pancras. Cue mashup of masculinity as the builders mocked their lack of hard hats and high-viz gear on a construction site (‘What’s a Hyeviz?’ asked one Foucauldian Marxist, looking at the sky). The greatest source of merriment was the academics’ spanking new shiny spades. Men laughing at each others’ tools. I think that’s why we got finished in a day – there was a lot hanging on those maligned bits of kit.


One Response to “Tooled up”

  1. 1 Simon

    The Big Society at work.

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