Cracker by Damian Christie

Summer is ready when you are...

The weather’s all over the place at the moment. Last week I was savouring my early finishes at work. Home by three-ish, on the deck, stretched out beside the cats, enjoying the sun. Or at least trying to enjoy the sun. The odd swampy smell from round the side of the house that gets worse in summer has, well, gotten worse. The landlord reckons it's nothing to worry about, but I’m still not convinced that having the Bog of Eternal Stench on your property is a good idea.

Still, any day above ground is a good day, or so they say, even if the ground is a tad squelchy underfoot. This week, the weather’s reverted, but people around me are optimistically talking about “the two weeks in late November when it always rains” as though it’s written in stone, and the three months after that are gonna be scorchers. Let’s hope they’re right.

Summer’s five days away, and I’m forced to admit my preparations are behind schedule. The car is still at the mechanics, where it’s been for an age. A friend of mine had recommended them, advising me you can get a bit of a discount if you tell them not to hurry. Six weeks later, I’m thinking about making a phone call: “Hurry.” It’s a summer sort of a car, and spends as much time off the road as on (i.e. broken, not ploughing across hills and muddy terrain) so I’m keen to at least get three months' solid use before putting it back on blocks for the winter.

I joined the varsity gym yesterday. Last time I joined a somewhat flasher establishment, went twice, and stoopidly – for someone who occasionally calls himself a lawyer – got locked into a year long contract. Two sessions, that’s four hundred dollars a session, you can see why I was more than a little hesitant to return.

[Actually, small gripe here: We all know people who have been locked into these sort of contracts, and it’s obviously how the gym makes money. They sell memberships to x number of people, knowing that only a quarter-or-so of them are ever going to attend regularly, so they only need to provide facilities for this number. But surely they have some moral obligation to motivate you? They’re keen as to sign you up and get you to part with your money, can’t they at least extend some of this enthusiasm to getting you along? Wouldn’t that be better PR in the long run? They have computers to monitor exactly how often you come, why not give you a friendly call if you haven’t been in for a couple of months, just to see if they can help? Oh that’s right, they only care about getting your money. Gripe over.]

With more outdoor entertaining in mind, Bog of Eternal Stench notwithstanding, I’ve decided to try my hand at a touch of gardening. There’s an old Chinese proverb, if you want to be happy for a day, get drunk… if you want to be happy for a lifetime, grow a garden. [the proverb in full apparently has something about slaughtering a pig? Odd] Curiously enough, for me, it was getting drunk that led to my newfound love of home horticulture…

The idea had its genesis last Sunday when I’d had a few too many, and decided to remove a Big Tangly Weedy Vine Thing, armed with only a rusty saw and scotch-fuelled determination. It turns out the Big Tangly Weedy Vine Thing was actually called Wisteria, and my landlord had intended it to be there. I’ll tell him the swamp got to it.

Not wanting said incident of intoxicated wanton destruction to be my sole legacy to what I optimistically call our garden, I’ve been making ecological amends. At least, I took some dead plants the little old lady next door didn’t want, and I’ve planted them. I’m not sure what they are, they’re pretty dead. Hopefully they're not little Wisterias.

Whatever they are, I fear, much like my car and my abs of steel, they’re not going to be ready by summer. If, as the Breeders sing, "Summer is ready when you are", would it mind waiting a few weeks? Ta.