Don’t contradict me, because on this matter I am certain. I’ll wager I have done it a good two or three times more often than you have, on yesterday afternoon alone. Take yesterday in toto off the table, however, and I’ll grant my research was only theoretical. But what of it – with yesterday back in play I can repeat: I have sought, quested and given it a go, and can report from the coalface, straight from the horse’s mouth, that there simply is no good way to ask a stranger to give you a bag of human hair. Although it is an excellent way to make a young, underpaid foreigner doubt their mastery of English.

See, it’s those damn slugs again/still. Having purchased some plastic pint glasses and four metres of copper barrier tape, it became clear even to me, for whom ‘Spatial relations’ lies below ‘Chutney-making’ and ‘Virulence of diseases in zero gravity’ on the ‘Understanding Of…’ list, that the copper tape was only going to do about 12 glasses, and that’s nowhere near enough to protect the battalions of cabbage and broccoli that have inconsiderately sprouted like maniacs. And, as feared in the previous entry, there ain’t no wool to be picked off fences – specially not in SW17. All of which has deposited us, warily, back at the hair option.

Yesterday it was. Off I tromped, with the seedlings to establish motive (‘I’m a gardener, not a witch, yet I seek the hair of strangers’) and asked a series of nonplussed salon assistants whether they could give me their floor sweepings. The mortification. The howling embarrassment of having to comfort pretty young Poles that no, their English was fine, the keywords of my request really did tally with the primary meanings of the letter clusters: slugs, garden, hair, please. I even acted it out at one stage, pointing at a seated punter’s head, the floor, the seedlings, and accompanying the charivari with nibbly-nibbly hand motions. It puts me in mind of the time I bought 10 metres of nylon tulle from a thickly accented Pakistani draper in Tooting market. He asked me what it was for and when I told him ‘wrapping a cherry tree’ he really DID panic about his English. Ach, who should worry? There’s a mental hospital not far from here – the locals take a lot in their stride.

Still, I managed to get enough anti-slug rug to be going on with, and then, on my way home from the organic garden some hours later, thought I’d pop in somewhere else and see if they had any spare to complete the job. Yes! Said the assistant, once she’d established a sketchy outline of my mental state, went out the back and returned lugging a bloody bin bag of the stuff.

This presents a new problem. I’m not due back at the organic garden for a week. If I leave the bag outside, I’m worried the foxes will attack it and sprinkle the contents hither and yon, turning Tooting’s pavements into a multi-tonal chest wig. So last night I left it under the hall table, and bloody hell is it freaking me out. Why? Horoscopes, dream catchers, ghosts – all total rubbish. I’m so meat-and-potatoes Enlightenment that I even think yoga’s a bit dodgy. But leave a bag of strangers’ hair in my hall and yes, I am uneasy – so much so that I sat up in bed last night giving myself a talking-to before lights out. Usually turning a situation around 180 degrees is enough to show things in a sensible light, so I tried it. I imagined that a bag of MY hair clippings was stored in a stranger’s house. Did that help? Did it balls.


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