Adulthood: one minute you’re buying mealworm and berry flavoured bird feed for your resident robin, and the next, you’re cutting your lawn with kitchen scissors. One minute you’re purchasing Himalayan Jasmine scented wax melts from a craft fair, and the next you’re accidentally putting £40 cash in the recycling bin and frantically trying to fish it out before the ice-cream man drives off.
The latest instalment of How Not To Adult, by Cara Jasmine Bradley, is possibly the most catastrophic tale yet.
First off, I can definitely vouch for the recent headlines claiming that garden furniture is currently as rare as Winnie The Pooh’s pants. Look, I’m not asking for some sort of Love Island set-up round the back of my gaff, but it would be nice to be able to eat my tea outside on something other than an old Loony Tunes beach towel.
Every single time we agreed on a patio set, we’d painstakingly get as far as the checkout, before being informed that it had sold out. Christ, even the alligator themed table and chair set from our local garden centre was out of stock. (Each chair had a plush alligator tail sticking out of the back, and the parasol was fringed to look like hundreds of pointy teeth.)
After about 55 years of searching, we finally managed to order a white bistro set from Amazon. There was an inevitable blip in the form of my husband putting all of the screws in the wrong way, but apart from that, we were pretty chuffed with the new addition to our garden.
“It’s a pity about the grass,” I said at tea, while sitting out on our swanky new chairs.
The ‘grass’ in question was at least four foot tall. The biggest dandelion known to man took centre stage in the middle of the lawn, swaying menacingly in the breeze.
A large garden had been top of my requirements when we started house hunting, and a large garden was exactly what I got. I have such fond memories of my Grandma Barbara’s sprawling wonderland of a garden, which was a burst of wildflower and pristine hedgerows.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite comprehend just how much upkeep and time gardens require. There’s no such thing as ‘Alexa – mow the lawn!’ or ‘Alexa – weed the patio!’ – Something I discovered all too late.
“Yeah, we really need to buy a lawnmower,” my husband agreed.
“It can go on the list after my walk in wardrobe, trampoline and Bonsai tree.”
Suddenly, an idea struck me.
I have had some pretty questionable ideas over the years, including the one where I agreed to grow up and become an adult, but this idea had to be the worst.
Never, and I mean NEVER, cut your lawn with kitchen scissors.
It is the most laborious and equally ludicrous task I have ever put my mind to. I was there all flaming night!
Granted, my lawn no longer looks as though it might come alive and gag me in my sleep... But it does look a little like Britney’s hair when she shaved it. A bit tufty, shall we say?
Had my neighbours looked out of the window, I am almost certain that I would have been sectioned.
I have a blister the size of Jupiter on my index finger, which I think might possibly be bordering on the verge of septic.
Why I didn’t just wait the five working days for our new mower to be delivered, I really don’t know.
Anyway, the entire night was a complete atrocity, failure and a sham.
There I was thinking that I could post some Insta-worthy ‘before and after’ shots of my DIY lawn job. People would compare me to Neil Buchanan. No – in-fact – I’d be deemed a hybrid of Neil Buchanan and Alan Tichmarsh! Tufty would become the new mown. The Beckhams would hit me up and demand that I ‘Cazza B’d’ their lawn too.
... The reality was that I have been forced to consider my place in a secure unit, where I can’t access/ break/ mentally scar lawns, washing machines and Boston Ferns.
The next day, we celebrated my husband’s birthday – his first one in our house. To mark the occasion, I cooked up a veggie ‘graze board,’ with corn on the cob, halloumi, BBQ beans, hummus and pitta, breadsticks, and a Greek salad.
I nearly had an actual meltdown as I manically attempted to control all four hobs, plus three shelves of the oven all at once.
“When will tea be ready?” My husband asked casually, poking his head around the door.
“When it’s ready!” I snapped, as the hob hissed and barbeque sauce splattered the ceiling.
“What time will that be abouts? I was just wondering, because the football starts at 7 and-”
I kicked the kitchen door shut.
The next thing I knew, the doorbell was going.
“BABE!” I shouted.
I don’t even know why I bother trying to compete with football. There could be a tsunami crouched over the roof of the house and my husband wouldn’t flinch if the football was on.
I could hire J.Lo to run naked through our living room and she wouldn’t get a look in if City were winning.
Cursing under my breath, I stomped to the front door.
“Ay up love! I’m Tim the Bin!” Bellowed an overly-happy Geordie voice.
I just stared at the man on my doorstep. What on earth...?
"Basically love, I run a bin cleaning business, and me names Tim – Tim the Bin!” He chuckled to himself. From the depths of the kitchen, I heard the hob spit and pop, and God only knew what was becoming of my unattended hard boiled eggs.
"So young lady, the big question is: would you like me to clean your bins?”
Words don’t often fail me, but on this occasion, I think it’s safe to say that there were no words.
Is it just me, or life getting stranger by the day? Maybe there is some truth in the Covid vaccine doping myths.
The next day, we went out for a meal, and the third palaver of the week emerged.
My husband was already sulking on the way back from the restaurant, because I hadn’t allowed him to get one of those plastic animal ice-cream cups that you used to get given after your chips in Lanzarote when you were 7. Did I mention that we were out celebrating his 29th birthday? You know what, normally I wouldn’t mind, but I’d already treated him to a Euros football sticker book.
It was almost fate when we returned home to find the ice-cream man circling our road.
“Can I get a 99 with sherbet?!?!” My husband asked breathlessly. He was practically jumping up and down on the spot.
I looked at the overgrown 29 year old baby in-front of me, clutching his Iron Man wallet in anticipation.
"Fine,” I sighed. “But only if you get me a Feast, and a strawberry whip.”
"I will! I’ve got the cash your Mum gave me for my birthday in here...” My husband trailed off. I watched as he prised open the wallet and shook it.
"What?” I said sharply. I swear to God, if that man loses another bank card... (A few weeks ago, he dropped his card on the way to Aldi, went back to find it, and accidentally came home with somebody else’s that he’d found en-route instead!! At least there’s somebody else out there who is married to a clumsy card-dropping idiot... That was an interesting 8pm call to Halifax – “Yeah, hi. My husband needs to cancel his card. He’s lost his own, but he’s actually found someone else’s, so please can you cancel that one too?”)
“My cash... It’s gone!”
Well, cue a frantic ten minute search of the house. The cushions were ripped from the sofa, the luxury chocolate birthday hamper was ransacked, and the hamster was even accused of stealing to feed a secret spinach addiction.
The queue at the van was dwindling, and we were well aware that it was a race against time to find the cash and leg it back outside.
"You know when you put all of the envelopes in the recycling bin... You don’t think that maybe...”
"No!” My husband snapped. “I’m not an idiot!”
... Sometimes it’s best to just say nothing.
My husband – who, by the way, isn’t an idiot – reluctantly crashed out to check the recycling bin. Two minutes later, as the ice-cream van pulled out of the road, my husband returned, forlornly clutching £40 in cash.
In that heart wrenching moment, divorce seemed imminent.
We won’t ever talk about that night again. Hearing that tinkling music grow more and more distant as my future Feast was cruelly snatched from my loving hands reminded me very much of that scene in the Titanic.
True love and loss at its most tragic.
Cara Jasmine Bradley