Shear terror


Like the football league and the National Hunt, the snowy weather has disrupted my winter schedule of works in the garden… Not that I mind.

But today dawned sunny without a trace of frost. I could not find any more excuses not to cut the hedge.

Hedge cutting is not a job I enjoy very much. The ground level action is OK. I can pretend to be a samurai warrior, lopping off twigs with the great sweeps of the electric trimmer. But the hedge is somewhat taller than me in places (and getting taller every year somehow). Cutting it requires a combination of a ladder, a dangerous power tool, an electric cable and my limbs. Things have not always gone smoothly in the past.

In recent years Mrs R has found a man to do the job. This is due mainly to exasperation with my procrastination, rather than concern for my safety. But this winter the usual man is off work with a back injury (no doubt caused by ladder/power tool activity), so I rashly said that I would do it.

I uncoiled the extension lead across the dewy grass and plugged it into the RCD. Then I tested the RCD to see if it worked (I’m quite careful you see). I plugged in the hedge trimmer and made short work of the lower levels of the hawthorn. With growing confidence I propped the ladder against the bendy boughs and ascended with the trimmer in my hand.

At the top of the ladder I braced myself, pushed the cable carefully over my shoulder and let it hang behind me, adjusted my safety glasses and switched on the trimmer.

There was a click and nothing happened.

I descended the ladder. Walked back up the garden to the electric socket in the garage and found that the RCD had tripped… After a number of attempts to reset the RCD, unplugging and plugging the extension lead and hedge trimmer in turn, I concluded that fate had intervened. I was clearly not meant to wield dangerous electric tools at the top of a ladder today.

I put away the trimmer and the electric leads and retrieved my faithful hand shears and secaturs from the shed.

It took much longer to trim the hedge by hand. When I finished my arms ached with the righteous pain of honest toil. I stood at the top of the ladder and admired my handiwork. The low winter sun shone in my eyes, blurred by the grimy scratches on my safety glasses.

I pushed the glasses up on to my forehead. Took a last look at the neatly sheared top of the hedge and stepped down the ladder watching carefully as I placed my feet on the rungs… and poked myself in the eye with the freshly cut end of a hawthorn twig.

2 Responses to “Shear terror”

  1. 1 Mrs R

    Well I managed the whole front hedge in the autumn without all this fuss. I hope you remembered to clean and oil the hedge trimmer before you put it away – you didn’t mention this in your blog.

  2. 2 John

    I think you need to get a professional in Alex. I recall reading in the paper a year or two ago about a man killing his wife when their Labrador knocked him off the ladder and her neck got in the way of the falling hedge trimmer!!!!!

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