Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A little inefficiency can be a good thing!

There’s all manner of fancy pants compost making drums, rollers, boxes and barrels you can buy, but your colyoomist doesn’t bother with any of that clobber. 

I’ve a bin in the back room for food waste, egg cartons and the odd shredded newspaper, while outside along the hedge there’s grass cuttings, garden waste and the compost itself.

After mixing the three ingredients I cover it with a strong plastic sheet and let nature perform miracles. 
 little and large, best of mates...

Some say it’s hard to create enough heat unless you invest in some flash gear, but under the surface my mountain of damp grass cuttings are in a perpetually smouldering state (oooerrr missis! Behave!)

Slap that unctuous black grey green sludge into the mix and we’re cooking with gas; just not sure which one.

However, after spreading last year’s compost on my beds and shrubbery, around the apple saplings and soft fruit bushes, I noticed that marigold and poppy seedlings were sprouting up.
 Evidently those steaming clods of grassy goo hadn’t produced enough heat to kill the seed from last Autumn's dead-heading.

The Snapper's cornucopia....

How bloomin’ splendid! Now the daring purple of the Snapper’s prolific perennial sweet peas are contrasted by a carpet of orange calendula below, courtesy of the inefficiency of my compost making. 

Better still: under, up, around and into the apple saplings we planted three years ago are growing marigold and poppy, out of the mulch laid there to feed and protect the trees.

 There be apples in there, there be...

Unexpected, free and beautiful: not a combination that often goes together, yet had I taken expert advice, there’d be no extra colour; no thrill of this gift from nature.

It has taken until this fourth Summer living here to finally be able to enjoy the work and love invested in this patch.

Staring back at me under an ever-increasing amount of weedy rubble is the black mypex sheet that should have been my veggie patch many moons ago, but no, I’m not going there. 

Instead of punishing myself for failing to build raised beds three years in succession, I harvest all our raspberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries. 

Rather than feel perpetually guilty about what I haven’t done, I stare in wonder at the purple, yellow, red and golds in the shrubbery and drop my jaw in awe as I look up above me, where Oaky’s branches reach for the heavens. 


When I first met him he was a one-leaf stick in a 3-inch pot. Now he’s an arboreal teenager, somewhere between sapling and mature adult.

Despite a terrible July I have gleaned some joy from this Summer. Although it’s hard to believe now, after four weeks of wet wind and lit evening fires, but June was dry. It was cold and breezy but it was dry, enough to promise a season that failed to emerge. I just love being out there, under the big sky, alone and at peace. 

Human contact is not normally something I crave, but recently I’ve come to develop a yearning for checkout people. Those who sit by tills and beep your shopping, tally the price and take your money.

Instead we are now presented by banks of self-service scanners, serving as age detectors to the likes of this middle-aged man. Were they efficient I wouldn’t mind, but invariably something goes wrong and I have to 'Seek Assistance.'

Then I’m engaging one to one with a real human being and wondering why those checkout jobs were cut in the first place. If you have to employ people to stand around and help, why not just re-create those checkout jobs and let us customers enjoy a little service?

Must confess though, something inside me strongly suspects this is more a matter of me being an old fuddy-duddy. Were I a teenager I think I’d use the self-service and be gone with no bother.

One night, before we tragically lost our airport, I was in Manchester Airport waiting for the late flight back to Galway. The terminal was almost empty, and in WH Smith one woman stood behind a counter.

I wandered in, picked up a sandwich and made for the till, where herself insisted she could not serve me. I had to use the self-service scanner.

Was she seriously refusing to serve the only customer in acres of airport?

I asked her what on earth she was doing there? She said she was there to help me if something went wrong with the self-service scanner.

With my brain spinning in reels of ridiculousness I tried and failed to scan my boarding card into the bloody machine. Turning to call for her to help, my circuits nearly blew a fuse.

Yes, sometimes inefficiency is incredibly annoying. Sometimes I really want people to help me out, to serve me and make me feel a tiny winy bit pleased to part with my money.

More importantly I don’t want to see good honest jobs unnecessarily replaced by machines.

However, all is not lost. On my last trip to London I was in the queue for WH Smith’s self-service scanners in Heathrow's Terminal 2, when an employee approached me.

“Excuse me sir. Are you just buying that newspaper?”

“Yes, why?” I asked suspiciously, anticipating his telling me about that day’s super-dooper buy a newspaper get fifteen bottles of water free deal.

“Well sir, if that’s all you want, you can use our honesty box.”

Do what? An honesty box at Heathrow Airport’s spanky super-modern new terminal, where security demands they scan your boarding card each time you fart.

He showed me the slot by the newspaper stand, into which I slipped my coins and left, feeling reassured and delighted that there was hope for us as a species.

Even though I’m aware of the phenomenon that occurs whereby, due to the wondrous nature of humankind, honesty boxes actually tend to make a profit for retailers,

I’m in love with this planet of unexpected poppies and marigolds and honesty boxes at Heathrow Airport.

1,004 words
©Charlie Adley

No comments: