Short Tony is standing in his front garden waving a chainsaw around. I am unenthusiastic about going over to help. There is such a fine line between being ‘a Good Samaritan’ and ‘a statistic’.
“He won’t need my help,” I protest. “Plus if I go and offer, knowing that he won’t need my help, he will just think that I am angling for some free wood.”
“Go on,” she insists, kicking me out of the car with a look.
I amble to Short Tony’s house. He is sizing up a sizeable old apple tree, which has been semi-uprooted and is leaning precariously. Miraculously, it has missed the house and everything else of value. So far.
“Do you need a hand?” I ask.
“I wouldn’t mind, actually,” he replies. “Do you want some free wood?”
I scuttle back to the Cottage to change into some old trousers. I have recently broken the habit of a lifetime, and bought some trendy new jeans in ‘Gap’ and I would not want these to get muddy. (For those who live in the middle of nowhere and not near a ‘Gap’ shop, the ‘Gap’ is basically a store that is frequented by forty-somethings who are seeking to maintain the heady sartorial excitement of their late thirties). I reappear some time later in my old gardening clothes.
Short Tony hands me a rope and gestures towards the tree. He has a small outbuilding in which he has installed a home gymnasium; the direction in which the tree has half-fallen is towards this. Clearly this is the way it will continue to fall should somebody attack it with a chainsaw – hence the rope. It transpires that my job is to take the strain on the rope, pulling with all my might, so that the tree, when felled, will not demolish the outbuilding.
To be, unfortunately, continued.