Monday, 14 July 2008
At work, as a gardener, they call me the land girl. You know, the wartime women workers thing. This is because I look eager, wear boots, trot about smartish and smile a lot. Apparently. Well everyone else has a name and I don't mind - it could be worse! Actually, being called girl is in itself rather charming, I am 44 after all.
And I have two jobs now, one on a farm and the other as a landscaper. I have recently bought my own van! A nice green one to carry a mower and tools. Plus a maximum of two children at any one time. Arguments in the cab strictly forbidden, whilst mother masters six gears and no rear view mirror. And sweats. And swears. A bit.
Buying it has been an experience. Real vans are sold and owned by real men, I've discovered, women are often offered little chi-chi things that are either hugely expensive or just downright embarrassing. I told the man at Ford that I needed space for a large mower and up to 20 bags of green waste. He walked me half a mile round the back of his showroom to show me a hideous little handbag of a van, lined with lurid carpet. A kind of passion wagon for gnomes. He said do you want to test drive it? I said not if you paid me, where do you expect me to put the mower in here then? It's actually bigger than this van... In the end, I bought one from - a woman. Simple really.
I press on cheerfully. I'm happy! Yet there are so many questions to answer when you're new, fresh and confident:
Are you strong enough?
Can you give me a full breakdown of the pesticides used on these potatoes?
Do you think you can make enough money to pay for the van alone?
Exactly how much money have you made?
What are the best plants for a bog? (Errm?)
Are you spending enough time with the kids?
Can I just press that button once Mum, and see what happens?
What a wicked scythe! Could I wave it around a bit in the garage, by myself? (NO)
Will you talk me through a year of caring for this raspberry cane?
And so on. All good fun.
I am tired by evening though. The other night I dropped the boys off at judo and fell fast asleep in the car outside the hall, engine off but still wearing my seatbelt. I woke up later with a start to find the kids tapping on the window and not one but two policemen staring right at me, all chilly and enquiring. Another question? I took the seatbelt off and waved. What now for Chrissakes? Just because I'm grubby and unconscious doesn't mean I'm a lawbreaker or a bad parent now does it. I'm just multi-tasking. Oh or something like that!