Health and safety concern: eating

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I’m concerned that my inspirational quote generator may be a little sexist.

At work today, Mateo had sushi for lunch and left his chopsticks on the table in our new smoking area. Mike picked them up and began to play.

‘I’ve never used these before, is it difficult?’ he said, holding them like drumsticks and trying to pick up a small stone.

‘Well it is if you hold them like that,’ explained Jessica. Then she spent a patient half hour trying to show him how to hold them. He would get it, and shriek excitedly as the stone lifted, but within a few moments he seemed to lose the knack and would wail ‘My thumb keeps getting in the way! Why is my thumb in the way? Your thumb doesn’t get in the way!’ and then Jessica would start again.

The afternoon went as normal, I’m still hedgecutting. Trying, as we all do, to sneak a few topiaried animals into the more random, natural shapes that they want us to create.

When I got back to the yard, Mike was shoving one of our eleven-hundred litre industrial bins over lumpy concrete towards his van to empty the rubbish.

‘How ya doing?’ I asked. He gave me a tormented look and stopped shoving to hold up his hand.

‘I’ve got chopstick-finger!’ he wailed.

‘What?’ I asked as he waggled a digit in my face.

‘Chopstick finger! It hurts! From using it so much over lunch. I’m not doing that again. It’s dangerous!’

Mimics

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When I walked in this morning, Mateo was holding this little guy, still wriggling in his fingers. I thought it was a wasp, but he insisted, no, it’s  fly pretending to be a wasp. He let the poor thing go eventually.

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Accidentally snapped a flowering gladiolus today. I didn’t have anywhere to throw it away to and my hands were full of curb key and hose, so I stuck the flower in my pocket.

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This gave me an eighties flashback to Morrissey (for anyone who won’t know about this, which may be most people, here’s a pic)

And I had to wail ‘You’re the one for me, fatty!’ at the sky.

This blog is just aimless rambling really.

Consider yourself at home!

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I’m not sure how long we’ve been in our new messroom now, a few weeks? I could look back, but I’m lazy. Anyway, after making a show of conforming to what the managers want (sitting inside, not messing around with the furniture etc) we have started to decorate and adapt, to bend our environment to suit what we want – after all, that’s what gardeners are good at.

I nicked a chair that was in one of the gardens, left there by a resident, and moved it inside so I don’t have to sit on one that slowly tips me off. We found two benches abandoned and put them outside in the shade. We emptied out the tin shed of bikes and unused cleaning products and turned it into a smoking room for when it’s raining. Mateo fixed a broken table and we put that between the benches. We even put a few paving slabs down, and added some plants, tinsel and an umbrella for decoration. It looks great.

The only downside is now the managers like to come and sit with us. Never more than one at a time, I don’t think they like sitting with each other.

Word of the day: labtebricole – living in holes

“Sticks and stones can break my bones and I have my Swiss Army Knife if they hit me and if I kill them it will be self defense and I won’t go to prison.”
― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

All Seeing Eye

 

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Today Mike found a drone lying in one of the gardens at work, under an Acanthus. I’m not sure if it got out of control, flew into the garden and then the owner couldn’t get in to retrieve it (the garden is gated) or if our residents are so rich that the owner couldn’t be bothered trying to find it. And I’m not sure what they were using it for. Do people fly them for fun like they flew remote controlled planes? Or only to take photos where they shouldn’t?

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The managers in the office are trying to spread the rumour that they’re using it to spy on us. I really hope Barry doesn’t find out about this, he’ll probably assume that it’s mine and I’m watching him. If he can believe helicopters are spying on him, then being paranoid about a drone is easy.

Word of the day: Bombilate – to hum, buzz or drone

Entropy!

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I’ve mentioned that recently we moved to a fancy new messroom at work, and I think I  talked about our high tech fridge. It has an LED that says the temperature and the date, I get the relevance of the temperature, but the date seems unnecessary. It also makes a high-pitched squealing noise whenever the door is open, I’m not sure why since it’s got one of those doors that thunks closed if you let go of it.

Anyway, now the LED is broken and the high-pitched noise has become annoyingly erratic. Sometimes it comes on when you open the door, sometimes it comes on when you turn on the tap and sometimes it squeals continuously for an hour in a fit of pique. Luckily, unlike the chairs designed to tip you off and the clock that won’t set to the actual time, this affects the managers, so it will get fixed soon.

And speaking of the clock, a few readers suggested the exciting idea that the wrong times it kept setting to were coordinates, that would lead me to an inter-dimensional portal or some such (I can’t remember the details now, I might be making this up). So I tried setting it to see what time it moved to. It’s satellite connected, so no dial, I simply pressed the button, the hands whizzed round for a bit and then hung limply, twitching. I may have to accept that I’m not being sent important messages from another dimension, it’s just crap technology. This new messroom is falling apart.

Ding Dong Merrily the War

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Barry the road-sweeper is a paranoid bully who flips between aggressive friendliness, passive aggressive whining and irrational shouting. I was nice to him at first, so he thinks I should stay that way, but I don’t like the way he tries to intimidate people and have started avoiding him. Mostly he deals with this by standing outside whichever garden I’m working in and singing and dancing around. Occasionally shouting cryptic messages over the hedge, things like,

‘You never know where you are with women, do you?’ or ‘It could have been a nice day today, could’ve been!’ He doesn’t actually say these things to me or anyone else, he just shouts them to the sky as if a god were taking his side.

Aside from saying a friendly, ‘Hello, how you doing?’ I don’t take any notice. If I’m walking down the bit of street he’s sweeping, he leaps around in front of me waving his broom and singing, so I give him a polite smile and walk past.

Today he tried to get others on his side in this war I’m refusing to have. Apparently he walked up to Mike and told him,

‘I’m gonna mess with her, you’ll see. She thinks she’s got the better of me. But today I’ve started sweeping on the North side first, before the South side. She won’t know where I am! That’ll teach her.’

He’s so caught up in his paranoia and self-importance he not only thinks I know what order he sweeps the streets in (I’m on the other side of the hedge doing my job, I haven’t a clue), he thinks I care. Hopefully now he believes he’s got that small victory, he’ll lay off a bit.

Attack of the killer plants

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This morning myself and Dan were clearing out a herbaceous border that hadn’t had attention in a while. Sometimes people think gardening is simple, but I’m not sure why, plants are damn complicated. And not being straightforward means that we often have to ask each other,

‘Is this a weed?’ Because there are thousands of different weeds and if they grow huge or are attractive, then it’s easy to assume a weed is a carefully chosen ornamental plant, of which there are also thousands.

So Dan asked me if a plant was a weed, and I guessed yes because it was too close to a shrub, but still, it was huge and attractive, with pretty purple flowers. I picked some to get a photo, trying to arrange them on the grass, while Dan started googling purple weed, but got nowhere. I had a feeling that these flowers reminded me of something else, maybe something like Solanum? (there’s an ornamental Solanum, but tomatoes are Solanum too). Meanwhile Dan was rubbing the leaves under his nose to see if they smelt of anything familiar.

‘Oh yeah, they do look a bit like Solanum,’ said Dan, squashing a leaf against his cheek thoughtfully. Then a worrying thought occurred to me,

‘Isn’t Deadly Nightshade a Solanum, Dan? Dan, maybe stop rubbing it on your face.’ I said, beginning to panic I googled. Yeah, Deadly nightshade is exactly what it was. One of the most poisonous plants we have in England. Cue frantic seeking out of water and searching symptoms and cures, and waiting for hallucination, seizures, death.

Pretty though. And we discovered that Deadly Nightshade is ok so long as you don’t eat any of it and wash it off immediately. And women used to drip juice of it into their eyes to make their pupils big. So it’s been educational.

Word of the day: phthartic – deadly; destructive

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Life goes on…

‘You don’t understand!  I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.’
– On The Waterfront

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Last night I dreamt that a man was staring in my window, he had huge eyes and quizzical look on his face. It’s the same as how people look at me in the street, an I’m sorry, but what are you? expression. I woke up feeling creeped out and couldn’t go back to bed until I’d had some crisps.

I’ve mentioned that management have promised us a new mess room at work. And today we finally moved away from our rat-infested grubby hole to the beautifully clean, sparkly white room. It’s filled with furniture that was discarded from local businesses, plus some fancy white cups and saucers that we aren’t allowed to use because they’re for guests.

There’s also a clock that connects to a satellite (apparently) and a hi-tech fridge that has an LCD display telling you the temperature. The chairs are clean, the floors are shiny, the walls are white.

The managers were everywhere asking us how much we liked our new space. We ran away and had break by the old rat-infested grubby hole. Clean and shiny is weird.

Word of the day: Aischrolatry – worship of filth, dirt, or smut

Nature’s bubble wrap. And ants.

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“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”

Word of the day: myrmecophilous – having a symbiotic relationship with ants

This morning my train got cancelled! Which means I ended up sitting in a carriage with all the wrong people, going from the wrong station. I’ll have to wait until Monday to see Angry Staring Man and the twins again.

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Melianthus seed pods ready to be stamped on

 

However I did make two interesting discoveries today. One was that the seed head of Melianthus (pic above) makes a very satisfying popping sound when you squeeze it, far more delightful than bubble wrap. I showed some to Dan and his eyes grew wide as he began popping feverishly away, then I showed Jessica and she was soon jumping up and down on them. I reckon I could market them:

Melianthus bubblepop! The all natural way to relax.

Bubblepop, no plastic, no toxins, just soothing pops to ease your mood.

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The other discovery happened when I pulled back a dead leaf and discovered an ants’ nest underneath. They hadn’t even bothered burying their army in the ground. The swarms of flying and pedestrian ants quickly fled to hid under another leaf, but I got a  photo.

Oh AND the brilliant Calmgrove has been doubting the veracity of some of my words of the day and has challenged me to use them in a story. I’m not sure how that would prove anything, but I think it’s an excellent idea all the same. It won’t be easy, but I’ll see what I can do.

Air rescue!

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We were sitting on lunch today, Mike was catching me up on Love Island (I don’t watch it, but his descriptions are always funny) when we heard a huge wap-wap-wap sound, and a load of leaves blew in as if they were trying to escape from something.

‘It’s a helicopter!’ shouted Mateo. So we all ran out to the lawn where an ambulance helicopter was landing.

We gave it some space, figuring they had bigger things to worry about than curious gardeners, but then the managers ran out of the office and across the grass shouting ‘You don’t have a permit to park there!’

Moments later there were police banging at our front gate demanding to be let in, they all ran past in a group like the keystone cops. After a few moments they worked out that the injured person was somewhere else and all ran back out again, shouting ‘Sorry!’ as they went.

Apparently there was an accident on the road outside and traffic in London is so intense that they couldn’t get an ambulance through, so they parked in our park.

Anyway, the managers might have been unhappy, but we thought it was great, the wind from the blades cleared the last of the winter leaves from under the trees. Hopefully they got the injured person to hospital on time too (we always try to find out the outcome of accidents and emergency dramas, but never succeed.)

Otherwise a fairly routine day, drove around a bit, tried to fend off residents asking me impossible questions, had some ridiculous conversations with colleagues, dug up some weeds. How was your day?