35 weeks to go…

by Max Akroyd

I’m scribbling this post in the doctor’s waiting room. There’s a woman with the cough from hell ahead of me, – then in a minute, or forty – I’ll be in front of le docteur.

I’ll try to explain that I’ve done something ominous-feeling to my back. Once he’s got his head around my comedy French, the good doctor will then have to decipher exactly what it is I do for a living. It’ll be one of those awkward moments that will make me feel like a visitor from another world – despite only doing something most of the human race always did. That’s civilisation, I suppose: where toiling over a few acres to feed yourself and wreck your spine is a mainly forgotten memory. Unfortunately, my muscle tone and posture were defined during the TV age – and I’m now experiencing the payback! I don’t want that dreaded diagnosis or a sick note. I want to be somehow wound up like a clockwork toy and allowed to resume the struggle – we’ll see. 

With the digging on hold, that dichotomy of the modern and the peasant is the theme in my head at the moment. Around the time my back gave in, the autumn solstice came and went. A big, telling harvest moon illuminated the evenings. These things mean nothing to someone trying to get through rush hour to see their family or even to a farmer with an array of spotlights on the front of his combine. But I felt it must be saying something to that mish-mash construct, the blogging peasant! Some actions should surely flow from the start of the year’s darkest quarter..?

Commercial gardening will presently be prescribing hyacinth bulbs and, so soon,  dancing electronic Santas will appear in the garden centres. Unless I want to weed my ancestors’ graves there isn’t much guidance in the textbooks of peasant tradition either. After getting the harvest in perhaps the peasant farmers of yore were all too knackered, or drunk, to care. Seems like I’ll have to invent my own ritual. So far my only response has been to grow ingredients for the world’s largest Chinese take away! Pork, spring onions and oriental greens are on the autumnal menu – enough for the whole commune. I’m not sure this represents an authentic reaction but it should taste pretty good. And I’m sure I can master eating it while lying on the floor.