Mowing the lawn for the council
Everyone has their own little thing that for them finally signals the beginning of summer, it might leaves on the trees, the appearance of cricket on TV or simply just warmer weather.
For me the start of summer comes with the first sighting of what I spotted this lunchtime on the way back to work, it is the most sure sign that after weeks of waiting the finest season of the year is finally upon us.
Enter, the council lawnmower.
It’s shape and colour has changed very little over the years, a sort of green mini tractor with yellow stripes and fat tyres, what John Deere would describe as a ‘Riding lawnmower’. It’s a speedy little affair with a superb turning circle and is the sort of thing men the world over will always want to have a go on. They can be seen bezzing about any council owned property or state school, which is where I noticed my first one over 25 years ago.
I remember mum dropping me off late after the dentist, she had a white spitfire with spoked wheels and the roof was down because it was such a nice day. And there it was, the council lawnmower flying round the playing field throwing up daisies in its wake. Everything seemed so in place, like it would never change. A combination of the weather, childhood innocence, the 70s haze and an undercurrent of good honest industrial action. The only way things could have been any better was if I had the job of driving the council mower.
The blokes that do that job, like the council lawnmower itself, haven’t changed in all that time. Still the same anonymous suntan and cut down jeans, the same leaning forward on the wheel like it’s a truck, and still the same grassed stained boots and look of complete indifference. These where the swarthy looking types that parents warned their daughters about, distant men with tattoos and sun bleached quiffs. Basically, proper men. Great.
By the time I’d progressed to an average suburban comp, my interest in the council lawnmower and the blokes that rode them hadn’t changed. I would sit in double maths and gaze out of the window at the council lawnmower speeding around the playing field making patterns and shapes. Come break time he would roll a fag, sit in the shade and gaze at his work. Soon enough a gaggle of the more confident girls would gather round and marvel at the raw sexuality of it all.
It was then, as it must be now, one of the greatest jobs in the world.