Monday, July 25, 2005

The Hissing Of Summer Lawns 

“Look at that,” said Rex, the senior statesmen of our two security guards, smearing a meaty finger across my monitor.
“Played none. Goal difference none. Points none. That’s the highest they’ll be all season. Burnley - second in the league in alphabetical order.”

Two weeks to go until the new season starts, and Rex and Spike are chomping at the bit. Rex has been a North End supporter man and boy, and to take the stick of rock analogy, if you chopped him in half he would say “Disappointed” all the way through.

David Beckham played for Preston, you know. Did you know that?” he asks you apropos of nothing, every single day.
“We taught him everything. Look at him now. Raking it in. Never mind gold plated toilet seats, we should be seeing some of that. David Beckham, ladies and gentleman, Captain of England. Learned his trade at Deepdale. Did you know that?”

Mornings and lunchtimes are their busiest times, but from three o’clock onwards you can often find them kicking a ball around outside their security hut.

It’s not even August and everything is done for. Everywhere you look the grass is straw yellow, dead, the hard ground dry as old bones. Only dandelions thrive now. In every home a dustbowl. We are all made of stars.

But while we’ve been stretched out in the shade panting like dogs, Rex has turned his hut-side garden into an oasis. Nasturtiums up the flagpole, dahlias by the door. Glorious washes of pansies dripping down from window boxes like waterfalls, clematis climbing the goalposts. Over there, past the sunflowers, that lush green goalmouth you see Spike diving about in - it didn’t happen by accident.

The garden gets a good soaking while Rex does his last rounds, the scent of late evening dog roses hanging prettily in the air like the paragliders you see high above Wolf Fell, out towards Chipping, Duke of Westminster Country.
Then he cuts a huge bunch of sweet peas to take home to Mrs. Rex, purple and violet and scarlet and cream, switches off the lights and the next morning, what do you know, they’ve all grown back again.

The fearless protector of our souls, all sixteen stone of him, gardener at the gates of work, Uncle Rex: something is troubling him and it’s this. It stops him dead in his tracks. Nips at his heels through lumbering sweat soaked dreams. Stalks him down the dark foreboding corridors of his mind. Two terrible words.

Hosepipe ban.

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