Bungee Jumps in Your Own Back Garden

I looked into the garden this evening and thought “this place needs a tidy-up”. Now in itself, that doesn’t deviate from any other day, but what made it different today was that I actually did something about it. I went out and cut the grass.

It turns out that there was very little real grass causing the place to look untidy, but simply the 18-inch high weeds in the middle of the “lawn” which made it look a lot worse than it was. Buoyed by this success and relative ease of tidying, I then set about the privet hedge which divides us from next door. This had been left for months to grow uncontrollably, and it looked a mess. Especially given that next door had trimmed her side and there was an obvious line where she could reach no further.

I started to hack away with the garden shears, only to find that half an hour later, I was getting nowhere and my arms were killing me. Enough is enough! I needed to go to B&Q anyway to buy a fence panel to replace the one that got smashed in the high winds a few months back, so while I was there, I bought a Flymo EasiCut 600XT Turbo WRX GSi hedge trimmer. Maybe Flymo doesn’t call it that model exactly, but it might as well be. Thirty-five notes gets you one meaty-looking electric hedge trimmer which can probably remove your arm without noticing.

I thought I’d swapped the centuries-old manual tool for a modern equivalent that should offer significant labour-saving advantages. What I actually did was to swap shears (which provided a handy, steady bicep training session) for this orange adrenaline factory that provides the ultimate full-body workout, along with being parts 1 and 2 of the MENSA induction test.

Getting the thing out of the box was the first challenge: it’s in an L-shaped box, which means there’s folds and flaps everywhere. I still believe it’s impossible to remove without resorting to the physical violence I required. Then there’s the instructions. The first leaflet that drops out of the pack shows how to use the “clippings collection attachment”. Bugger – I’ve picked up a box which has that part missing. Only after a careful read did I discover that this is actually an optional extra which presumably costs more than the machine itself. There’s the directions for the nifty “cable belt clip”, which have cables routed through here, clips lifting there, snapping into place over somewhere else. Blimey – all I need to do is cut the hedge. And then there’s the power-up sequence. Captain Kirk got to warp speed 9 with less button-pushes than this thing needs.

There are four power buttons, three of which need to be depressed to start things up (you work out which ones) and two of which need to be held during operation. Unfortunately, holding these buttons on needs a grip like a world-class rock-climber. It’s impossible to be stretching even slightly and keep the thing running. And then there’s the weight. When I picked-up the box it seemed reasonably heavy, but not overly so. That’s great on the shop floor for 10 seconds, but hang yourself over a rose bush at full stretch and I suddenly discovered muscle groups which had been on holiday since 1986.

Finally, there’s the fact that about 4 inches from your fingers (or sometimes many other parts of your body) there’s highly-sharpened chopping implements flashing backward and forwards willing human flesh to venture near enough for a bite. Like my circular saw before it, I was crapping myself just switching it on. It’s a bit like bungee jumping really – you know it’s probably safe, but if someone nodded off doing the safety checks, then it’s likely to end in a fatality.