Why I Hate Mowing The Lawn

Because I always think the same thoughts whilst doing it. And I hate these thoughts, and want to get rid of them, so I’m trying to do that by writing them here.

I think about –

  • Alan Bennett’s London Review of Books article, ‘Memories of Lindsay Anderson’, in which he said –

At the drabber moments of my life (swilling some excrement from the area steps, for instance, or rooting with a bent coat-hanger down a blocked sink) thoughts occur like ‘I bet Tom Stoppard doesn’t have to do this’ or ‘There is no doubt David Hare would have deputed this to an underling.’ (Vol. 22 No. 14 · 20 July 2000)

  • The Mower‘ Philip Larkin’s pitiful poem that begins “The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found/ A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,/ Killed.’
  • The frog from next door’s pond that I once killed whilst mowing the lawn. I did not write a poem about it. I should have done, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as Larkin’s.
  • Lawn mowers and how badly designed are. Particularly the catastrophically awful Fly-Mo I used for several years, because our lawn is less than half the size of half a squash court, and because I thought having a proper mower was ludicrous.
  • My street, and why everyone living on it doesn’t just share a single badly designed lawn mower to mow our equally tiny lawns.
  • Death. Specifically, I think about the death of my grandfather – my father’s father – who died whilst mowing the lawn in Lytham St Annes. This would have been on May 25th, 1947. He was discovered slumped over what I imagine to have been a large petrol-driven green lawn mower by my father, a boy of eight years-old. My grandfather had had a heart attack. My father, as far as I know, never mowed the lawn himself. He – like Tom Stoppard and David Hare – always got some else to do it.

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