At the entrance to The Turrets, we have a holly tree; it’s not a particularly big tree, and was really quite a small guy when we moved here ages ago. But we like it, and over the years, it’s had various indignities imposed on it, like me running into it with various Scrobmobiles, having a misunderstood Agapanthus tied to it to keep the flower heads from attacking Mrs S’s Fiat Pork Cajun when she sallies forth, near total annihilation by a JCB when the drains were reinstalled, and so on.
Hollies are great when they have loads of berries too. Last year we had only three, but this year it’s smothered, such that some of the boughs are drooping and attempting to attack various passers-by by spearing them and generally becoming unruly. One particular branch takes no prisoners over six foot, so Elbey would stand no chance! Hellfire, he’d lose both shoulder blades as well, and that’s even after his reduction of ¼ inch at the hands of his local choppery! Lils would look nice on a swing though, so that makes it even doesn’t it?
So my job this weekend is to make sure that all offending woodwork is cut back, and a few bits are strewn around for the blackbirds. We usually have a resident thrush living there too. ‘Thready’ the thrush can be a violent bird, (whoever heard of a bird called ‘Freddy the frush’...), and has been known to see off several pigeons, an eagle once, and also three feral buzzards which tried to take over the manor and brought in local trug basket for their spoils. That tree has been the scene of more Avian Territorial Pecking since Grace Jones slapped Russell Harty live on TV! Thready has a rumoured stash of AK 47s in his nest, so you can understand that we tend to keep clear at this time of year.
Now, hollies need a lot of work to keep their shape. At the first ‘Turrets’, I cut one back so hard, that it re-grew to look exactly like (the late) Noel Redding in his heyday, but didn’t play bass half as well – in fact it was pretty hopeless on the second riff in 'Hey Joe'! One year, Mrs S pointed out that that our current tree was in danger of entwining the overhead lines, and either plunging the county into darkness, or sabotaging the local vicarage’s telephone wires. (Personally, I’d rather see the vicarage people suffer, as they aren’t anything to do with the church any more as the house was sold off to pay for a new roof or something, but it would be fun to see all those candles in all the houses again, it takes me back to the last depression – or even last week when all the power crashed and stopped us getting anything out of the fridge; but it was OK, as we had some nice Claret instead).
The day after Mrs S pronounced a severe topping of Thready’s haunts, there was a screech of brakes and a whiff of cheap diesel outside, and a rather weasley man poked his head over the wall, and asked if he could take some sprigs to make wreaths for Christmas. It suited me as I wouldn’t have to climb the ladder and get speared, personally connected to broadband or even electrocuted, and told him he could take the top four feet, on condition that he dropped off a wreath for us. Well of course, pikeys just take everything and scamper off, so we made our own wreath, which was much better, and had some smart additions like berries; (it was another bad year for Thready).
Well, I now have a free hour or so this weekend, as someone (probably the same weazle), has conveniently hacked of the offending branch while we weren’t at home – and I’m delighted. The tree looks perfect now!
I don’t know what I’m going to do with the time saved, probably I’ll spend it writing this for several good friends and relations and trying to make them chuckle a bit...