Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name. But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game. Simon turns up the music. Pushes his wireless AirPods deeper. The sun is shining. Things are hotting up. But never mind Gethsemane, forget St. Petersburg. Did the Devil, or Jagger for that matter, ever mow a middle England lawn on a hellish hot day? He doesn’t think so.
Suburbia is the new purgatory where all the city sinners secretly yearn to suffer out the rest of their eternity.
You get that hybrid German saloon at 8% APR over three years, it tells everyone you’ve made middle management. The kids are trainered and shirted with crocodiles and polo players; striped and ticked — all off eBay, but nobody’s to know. Just Do It. You’ve said goodbye to the old neighbours with their caravan blotch on the driveway — really sorry to leave, so happy to go — straight into that brand new, mock-Georgian three-storey around the corner. That just leaves mower envy as the last vestige of suburban one-upmanship.
How relieved Simon is then that his new neighbour makes it so easy for him. Look at the knob with his red snake of electrical cord — twice wrapped around his ankles, hopping and skipping over and through it at each turn — while Simon cruises freely with his petrol, 48cm rotary with a wave and a smile. Hear my roar. Please trip, please trip, he thinks.
Andy’s wife parks up in her battered Ford Focus — not even air conditioned. She even smiles. Goes right up to him with a peck. On the lips. Andy’s mouthing something now over the Ronsealed fence. Simon shakes his head and points to his ears. Let me please introduce myself. I’m a man of wealth and taste. They’re hugging, they’re actually hugging. They think they’re so fancy with their PDA, their ‘daarhlings’ and ‘honey-bunnies’. But with his 75 litre grass catcher Simon can mow for longer than Andy; with his 65.2 MPG he can travel farther and in style.
He leaves them on their half-cut, weedy excuse for a lawn, coiled and entwined. He’ll call Jill and the kids tonight. No reason, just wondering how you all are.