I don’t even need to wait for Monday to do this, this is ongoing.
I was weeding the garden today – hard as a bone – when I heard someone say ‘excuse me?’ Often I’ll have a chat with the neighbours whose garden is next to mine, but the other side has a gap, a big fence and then flats. Although I see the various occupants sometimes, we’ve never talked. Anyway, a head was poking over the top of this big fence. I turned around and the guy chuckled smugly at my sweaty self, which I didn’t like.
‘Hello,’ he said, still smug, ‘do you pick your apples?’
Now our apple tree has many bright red apples on it, but most can’t be reached and those that can aren’t that nice and often have maggots. So we pick what we need and let the rest fall. I figure they serve as food for the birds and insects, and since they’re more endangered than me, I feel good about it. Occasionally visitors get uppity about it, ‘Don’t let them just fall! Why don’t you bake a pie?’ they say. But when I suggest they go collect some, they last about three minutes before giving up, complaining about inaccessibility and maggots.
‘Sometimes,’ I say.
‘Do you eat them yourself then?’ he asked, and I could hear the lecture about wasted apples desperate to get out of him. I’m aware I sound unreasonable, but he was oozing smug.
‘Sometimes,’ I said, ‘but they have a lot of maggots.’
‘Ah. Perhaps I could try some?’
‘Ok,’ I said, found a maggotless one, picked it and climbed the fence to hand it over.
‘Thanks!’ he said, with a cheeky grin. ‘I thought I should ask before just taking one.’
‘How would you take one?’ I asked looking at the high fence and the metre gap and my fence, he wouldn’t be able to reach.
‘Well, I’d climb over the fences!’ he said proudly.
‘Yeah, I’d rather you didn’t break into my garden,’ I replied, trying to not get too indignant.
‘Hmm, yes, I thought I should ask, so you didn’t turn round and see me right behind you!’ he said chirpily, as if he was doing me a favour and wasn’t acting creepy. ‘It’s good to eat things from the garden, isn’t it?’ he said. ‘More natural.’ Again, smugness abounded. Because, yes obviously it is, so saying it with a patronising tilt of the head isn’t necessary. I was making assumptions, but he struck me like the kind who’s never grown anything, but buys all his fruit and veg at the farmer’s market and thinks that makes him an expert on nature. The kind who believes because he’s watched Bear Grylls he’s a survivalist. In gardening I’ve met a few of these types, they like to stand about lecturing me while I’m working. A Nature Poseur.
Anyway, I went inside and told Hamoudi about it.
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘is he the one with the sword?’
‘Er what?’ I said.
‘The white guy who poses in the garden with the sword? He stands on his own doing stances.’ Hamoudi did a couple of sample man-with-sword poses.
‘I’ll bet that’s him!’ I said. Hamoudi showed me the garden he poses in, and since there aren’t many white guys in the neighbourhood, I’m thinking that yes! He’s the guy that poses with the fucking sword. Like I said, a survivalist!