The wall in our back garden fell down overnight at the weekend. I shot this video the morning after (Sunday).
A couple of years ago I laid a patio in our back garden. It is probably – thanks to the moving of the slabs and the breaking up of the original concrete ground covering – the single most strenuous activity I have ever undertaken in my life.It has become my main reference point for all feats of physical exertion and in my mind an unofficial unit of effort, as in: “You want me to do what? Are you kidding? That’s more than a patio . . .”And any task less than a patio I now sneer at with contempt: “Do not bother my Herculean might with such trivialities, make the children do it . . .”It shows how a little milestone in my personal history can have a resonance beyond its time.It’s also quite a good example of how a man does one job and you never hear the end of it. You can interpret it either way. History is just different points of view, especially personal history.Legend has it that the great feat of patio laying took about three days. Even if it was done as quickly as this (and it is nearly possible to swing a cat across its vast surface area so it wasn’t built in a day) we can be certain that the associated fuss from me (aches and pains, “don’t step on it” etc) would have blighted family life for at least a month.I draw your attention to this because early last Sunday morning, our entire lawn area – just a little smaller than the wicket on a cricket pitch – was unintentionally paved with brick in less than three of your finest quality traditional English seconds.I heard it happen. Not only was it faster than my patio construction, it was also quieter.I produced 36 hours of grunting and whining, punctuated by coal chiselling and pick-axing.The bricks arrived with nothing more than the sound of something relatively heavy – in this case the large boundary wall they used to be – landing on something relatively soft, in this case, My One True Love’s lawn.I went out with a torch to investigate. It was around 2am yet the birds in the trees were fully awake and chirping frantically.Sparrows blaming the blackbirds, blackbirds blaming the pigeons. You know how it goes.To be honest I was as surprised as they were. The wall had stood for over a hundred years and it wasn’t in great condition, but I didn’t expect it to just fall over.We may yet discover that the world’s unluckiest hedgehog was paying a visit to our garden that night.As I write this, the bricks are still lying where they fell, which is pretty much everywhere that My One True Love had planted something.The greatest potential loss is a particular breed of snowdrop named after my daughter, Bonnie, and developed by a snowdrop growing friend of My One True Love.But, as she has glumly pointed out to me, eight years of gardening has gone into our little plot and we don’t yet know what is salvageable.But I have to admit as I picked my way across the rubble-scape, taking in the new panoramic view of next door’s garden, I was slightly euphoric.It could have happened at any time. Anyone could have been in the garden.People talk about having dodged a bullet when they narrowly escape bad luck. We’ve dodged a whole wall.