Some of you who've been following the tales of our life in France will already have met our ancient but indomitable mower. We bought it from the previous owners of the house, and despite many mishaps it is still going, and still mowing - at 20 years old. Over the twelve years we have had it it has undergone many repairs, some at the hands of the local mower man, but most by my husband, who, until we recently acquired a mower jack, was sometimes to be found lying on the patio, partly under the mower, battling with the latest collapse. He has, so he tells me, had to rebolt the silencer and refix the engine to the chassis. We have had to buy new blades, belts, battery and tyres. Just this year the cutter-deck bearings had to be replaced. And for some considerable time the engine has had no casing, because the plastic has melted. There have been many occasions when, on our arrival, the mower had to be fixed before it could be used, when perhaps we had a bare week to get the grass down and the weather turned wet.
So far the latest repairs seem to be holding, but I have sometimes wondered what we will do when it finally dies. We look at new, shiny mowers in garden and DIY centres, and not only are they expensive but also we suspect that they wouldn't last more than two or three years in our rugged, sloping, bumpy, tussocky garden where so many banks, stumps and holes lie in wait for the unwary among the thigh-high grass. After all the times he's had to repair it, I wonder if my husband has a symbiotic relationship with the doughty machine. 'What will we do with it when it finally conks?' I asked.
'Buy a new one,' was the answer. Then he smiled. 'And keep the old one to haul logs and so on.' So it seems he won't be parted from his rackety old friend after all.