Between the ages of 12 and 17 I was locked away in an all-girls Anglican boarding school. There were almost 200 girls in the hostel and, though it might be hard to believe, not all of them were that much fun to be around. All that changed when Katy arrived in the 6th form and made me be her friend. That might seem an odd thing to say, but she really did force me into it, and I bet she'd say the same thing. Anyway, now I can't imagine my life without her.
Katy has many advantages as a friend but two in particular meant we were destined to be BFF: she was brand new so the matrons didn't know her as well as they knew me; and she has an innocent, darling little face.
All of my very favourite memories of school involve Katy. Mostly they involve Katy and me trying to break out of the hostel (see the two points above). One day I'll share some of those stories with you, but right now Katy is going to share a story of her own.
A couple of weeks ago I started cutting our enormously overgrown front hedge. Said hedge borders our little front yard on three sides.
The first day I spent quite a long time hacking the front and the side that borders our path to the back of the house. After fours hours I got it down to a decent size but it looked completely bald at the end of it. I was a bit worried that I'd killed it.
But after a couple of weeks it started to grow back in much more of a hedge shape.
Having discovered that I probably wasn't going to kill it, I started on the side that borders with the neighbours.
Initially I just trimmed along it. But the top had given up on being hedge and started being trees. It looked kind of ridiculous. So I got a chair and started cutting a couple of feet off the top. I figured I wasn't encroaching too much on the neighbours if I only cut to the middle of the hedge. Which of course looked even more ridiculous. Our half being nice and neat and two foot shorter. Too make it more irritating the top section was long supple branches. So as soon as I cut my side the branches on the neighbours' side started drooping back to my side. I decided that that was sufficient justification to half climb into the hedge and cut the top section of the neighbours' side. All the time I was delicately pulling the cut branches back onto my side (in the vague hope that they might not notice). Then there were some sneaky branches that were growing up the neighbours side of the hedge that sprung up higher than the top. So then I was almost inside the hedge, cutting the offending branches... and feeling terribly naughty. But I still couldn't get it looking respectable.
Finally one of the neighbours came home. The house is divided into four flats. The person who came home lives on the first floor nowhere near the hedge... and is Thai and doesn't speak a lot of English. Which was perfect. I said 'can I just pop over to your side and neaten up the top of the hedge?', indicating with my hands. She said 'yes', and scuttled inside.
That was enough for me. I picked up my chair and took it into the neighbours' yard and started trimming the top. I went over to the other side of the road to have a look, but from there all that was obvious was the enormous unchecked branches growing into their yard, making our nice neat side look bald.
I thought 'I'm sure they won't notice if I just neaten it up a little'. I started cutting back their side a little... and a little more... and a little more. I couldn't stop. I felt so naughty. But it felt fabulous. Eventually I was standing there knee-deep in hedge cuttings. I furtively put them in a tarp and dragged them back to my yard to hide the evidence in the vain hope that they wouldn't notice that half their hedge had disappeared.
And now I'm wondering if I have a bit of a hedge problem. I've started eyeing up other peoples hedges. Imagining what I could do to them. Do you think there's a ten step group? Obsessive hedge cutters anonymous?