Monday, 8 October 2012

Grassed Up!

OldmaSock has had her car confiscated.  Not by the police, although that has been a worry - not so much that her driving skills have gone down the drain (even in spite of her being a tad demented), no, it was the tipple or two she takes at her lunch clubs before driving home that was horrifying me! Luckily BroSock has easily persuaded her that the tiny amount of driving she does isn't worth the expense of maintaining and insuring the car.  Because she is a miser this has easily swayed the argument although pleas that she use the money saved to get taxis when needed will have fallen on deaf ears.  OldmaSock has never liked spending money and it is now an OCD.

When I phone her prior to my visit she tells me that the main problem of having no car is she can no longer make her regular trips to the dump.  Another of OldmaSock's many obsessions is taking stuff to the dump, amongst other things clearing the attic of all my stored childhood memories, toys, annuals, my collection of dolls dressed in the national costumes of countries we visited, but the main thing now is the endless bags of garden waste. For another of OldmaSock's obsessions is pruning - there is nothing she loves more than a good prune! An example is this beautiful acer ruined by having the side which was hanging over the path hacked off.  The row of trees and shrubs at the back of the garden sawn and lopped where possible after she has climbed up onto the wall to have a go at them.  She has been told countless times not to go climbing on the wall at her age but like the wilful child she has become, she doesn't take a blind bit of notice of what anyone else says and actually never has done!

Hacked Acer

So what is OldmaSock doing with all this garden waste? "Oh" she tells me over the phone "I am taking it in my wheelbarrow to that bit of waste ground down the road." "What 'bit of wasteground?" I ask, puzzled "there is no bit of wasteground".  Then suddenly it dawns on me.  Many years ago, when the Sock family moved to what was then a new build house, we were on the edge of the countryside - over the back wall and into fields, ponds, woods, valleys, streams a childhood paradise.  And then heartbreakingly the dumpers and trucks moved in and bulldozed the beautiful trees down. Where the ponds had been full of newts, tadpoles, minnows, they were filled in with soil.  Posh houses sprang up and people moved onto the land once inhabited by the hedgehogs, mice and moles we used to find so fascinating. The builders did leave some small areas of grass, trees, and a few shrubs - green spaces of parkland between the houses, maintained by the council for the community. This is where OldmaSock has been dumping her garden rubbish.  I tell her this is very naughty and she mustn't do it, in the full knowledge that she is not listening to me and is already constructing a tale of lies and evasions which will justify her doing exactly what she wants.  Old people can be extremely wiley.

The "bit of wasteground" Oldma has been tipping on

I phone BroSock "Did you know about OldMa's flytipping?". "OH GOD!" he replies as I prepare myself for his twenty minute rant about how he has told her TIME AND TIME again not to do this, has instructed her a MILLION TIMES about the special bags provided by the council for garden waste collection.... I don't know why he can't see the funny side.. I have an image of OldmaSock in her bobble hat and shabby coat,  like a garden baglady pushing her wheelbarrow full of rubbish around the pavement of this very 'nice' neighbourhood with said neighbours twitching at their curtains and shrieking "Look! She's at it AGAIN!"

The brown piles under the trees are ALL OldmaSock's garden waste!

When I arrive at OldmaSock's I enquire as to how the fly tipping is going.  "Oooh - I've had someone round from the council to tell me off.." she says quite happily.  "And what did you say to them?" I ask.  "I told them I was eighty-three and that I couldn't go to the dump because I no longer have a car. So they left it at that." "OK - well one of the neighbours has unsurprisingly grassed you up" I warn her "and next time they will probably put you in prison which will be a relief to us all as it will keep you out of mischief. And actually you are eighty-five although that doesn't make the fly tipping any more excusable". Oldma finds this all very amusing and laughs a lot - I am not confident that she is taking this at all seriously.

BroSock later also comes to stay - I update him on the saga and suggest we all go to take a look at exactly what Oldma has been up to.  "I'm not going out with her in tow" he says "the neighbours will probably lynch us!".  "Don't worry, if anyone asks we can just pretend we are social workers" I reassure him.

During my stay I give OldmaSock several more lectures and explanations about what to do with her garden rubbish and strict instructions about not clambering around on the wall at her age. I have a strong suspicion that although it is true that her short term memory is shot to pieces, she has no intention of remembering anyway!  One day we walk to the nearest shops taking the cutting through a different community woodland next to the nearby school.  "This is where I am bringing my garden waste now" she announces proudly, as if she is doing something very clever.  "And where exactly are you putting it?" I ask.  "Under that signpost there..".  Sure enough under the signpost that says 'No Tipping' there is a pile of OldmaSock's garden cuttings.


Anonymous said...

This made me laugh. I get the distinct sense that she is enjoying this rebellion far too much to ever give it up.

Anonymous said...

My mother, god bless her, is another octogenarian who quite happily continues to drive contrary to advice/good sense. Her latest accident caused minimal damage to a van she hit. The owner "a very nice young man" said he would sort things out & the following day paid my mother a visit with three verbal "estimates" for repair. She was more than happy to give him £720 cash, being the cost of the lowest of the three estimates.

Aaaaaah !!!!!!!

Jane Powers said...

OldMaSock is obviously MULCHING the impoverished soil in those areas. Good for the plants. Excellent for wildlife. She's a crusader for the planet, like that Nobel-prize-winning woman who planted all the trees.

Sue (aka Trillium) said...

I recognise my future self in Old Ma Sock. It's an oddly reassuring sensation.

wellywoman said...

My dad armed with his 'scorpion' mini chainsaw thing has got the same pruning obsession. I was up there in the summer, and found him one day, at the age of 87, up a precariously perched ladder pruning a conifer. I couldn't watch and sent hubby out to try to manage the proceedings. Of course the suggestion of getting someone into help is adamantly dismissed. I dread the phone call to say not only has he pruned a tree but also his arm. At least he doesn't drive so I don't have to worry about that.

Lickedspoon said...

What a pictue you paint of Old Ma Sock. She reminds me a little of my husband's late grandmother who was forever sawing down huge branches from overhanging trees and would not be stopped. We once arrived for Sunday lunch to find her on the roof of her cottage, replacing a tile which had come loose the night before. She was in her early nineties at this point.

janerowena said...

I think her fly-tipping is a good thing - both mulching, and leaving a habitat for small creatures. If she were 40 years younger she would be an eco-warrior.

themanicgardener said...

Too funny. Both my mother-in-law and my father had Alzheimer's, but neither took to pruning everything in sight, probably because neither had been avid gardeners to begin with. As for me, however--I suspect I'm in danger of becoming OldmaSock in another couple of decades.

Tree Service Hendersonville NC said...

I love this simply because OldmaSock is getting joy out of the little head-butting she has done with the city people and neighbors. Its all the joy she can get, I'm rooting for her!!

-Tony Salmeron

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Anon - touch wood the last thing we have to worry about with OldmaSock is that she will start paying money out to anyone! We beg her to spend money on herself and she won't.

She was always a very keen composter in days of yore and I did suggest that there is plenty of space in the garden for her to pile the waste and be beneficial to insects etc. but she won't.

I don't know what it is with OAPs and chainsaws, etc but if anyone wants their trees drastically pruning I can hire her out. I wish I had her strength and determination now let alone when I'm an OAP!

I think you are right Tony Salmeron, when I told Oldmasock that I was going to tell all my gardening friends about her exploits she offered to pose with her wheelbarro for a picture!

Gardeningbren said...

Oh this is so timely for me to read, you cannot imagine!!!! Thank you for giving me a laugh and making what can be such a heavy load dealing with senior parents, a little bit lighter today.

patientgardener said...

Sorry I am laughing at this and in tears. I am sure it is upsetting but you have to admire her bloodymindedness. My parents are obsesssed with the dump as well, they know all the workers there and dad often trades with them, presumably to take whatever he has acquired back some time in the future.
I think I would rather be like OldMa at her age then sitting in a home unaware of anything around me. Long may she continue, wall climbing and all

Anonymous said...

Were we ever this much trouble to them when we were children???

Possibly 'No Comment' is a good answer to that.

However, you miss them when they are not there, despite all the angst they cause us.