The Good Life: Director's Cut
Updated: May 11, 2020
Could the ride-on mower be the key to a Lush Places business empire? By Greg Dixon.
Being an unemployed bum sure is hard work.
When we got the heave-ho from Bauer Media a month ago, I had dreams of lying in bed all morning, emerging for afternoons on the couch in front of the box, and then going back to bed for a nice rest. For the purposes of cliche, I even weighed up developing a minor weed habit.
Instead, I have done nothing but work. Since the country went into hiding six weeks ago, I have weedeated this, sprayed that, made this website and spent hours and hours in our home office going quietly mad sorting out receipts and whatnot for tax returns.
But mostly, I’ve mowed. I’ve mowed and mowed and mowed.
Long-time readers of this nonsense will know that, if it were legal, I would marry my ride-on mower; there is nothing strange about that.
So being in her company is usually no hardship. But, as so many have found since this interminable lockdown began, spending too much time with people you love can lead to unwanted thoughts like “if I move into a tent in the garden, am I breaking my bubble?”
Even if the ride-on and I could no longer stand the sight of each other, and it hasn’t reached that point, we have had little choice being together for hours. Our lawns, much like the country’s interest in the arcana of epidemiological modelling, have been growing like billy-o since the end of March. And as we know from Newton’s laws, grass won’t mow itself.
Having lots of work to do around the place is one of the things that is inevitable when living in the country. Whatever the time of year, there will be planting, pruning, trimming, spraying, mowing, digging, stacking or composting to be done at Lush Places.
When in paid employment, these honest, homely tasks are satisfying and therapeutic toil in the fresh air. When you’re an unemployed bum, it starts feeling like unpaid work. Or so it occurred to me last week as I considered the state of Hyde Park, the largest wooded and grassy area of our property.
It had only been a week or so since the last mow, but Hyde Park and Hyde Park Corner — the bit of Hyde Park on the other side of the driveway — were looking like my home-cut lockdown hair, unruly. It was clear my intended and I would need to spend another hour or two together doing pro bono work.
Then, I had a thought. It was a stupid thought, but I wasn’t going to let that put me off. It went like this: people are bored out of the minds because of the lockdown. They will watch anything for distraction. Why don’t I film myself mowing Hyde Park and put it on the internet? If enough people watched it, I could make more, and then, thanks to the virus, I’d go viral and become — drum roll — a ride-on movie mogul. I’d change my name to Cecil B. DeMow!
Before you ask, I didn't have the thought while working on a minor weed habit.
Standing in Hyde Park, all things seemed possible. The only barriers between me and my dream were a complete lack of expertise and talent. But these things have never stopped me before.
By gaffer-taping a bulldog clip to a bit of wood, I managed to knock up a pretty useful selfie stick. But then I spent a fruitless hour taping my iPhone to things — more bits of wood, boxes — and then taping those things to the mower trying to work out a way to film me mowing while I was doing the mowing.
The only solution seemed to be gaffer-taping the phone to my face. Eventually, I figured I could tape it to the visor of my chainsaw safety helmet and wear that. Satisfied, I yelled “action”, and was off.
I won’t lie to you, the results were rubbish. The first half hour, before the phone fell off and it had to be re-taped to the visor, was completely out of focus. The second half hour was in focus, but induced seasickness when viewed.
I’m not giving up. As shark movie mogul Steven Spielberg once said, all good ideas start out as bad ideas, that’s why it takes so long. Besides, our grass is still growing like billy-o.