Jaqui's Daily Blog

A Clean Sweep and Other Tall Tales

The sun is shining so I am in the back garden trying to do a bit of tidying up. Not so much a spring  clean as, well, a clean sweep...


The weather forecast for tomorrow is pretty dreadful but today is today, as they say, so let us rejoice and be glad in it. How very enjoyable it was, this morning, to stand at the kitchen sink pretending to wash up last night’s dishes while watching all the school-children on their way to school. So many of them, passing by our garden gate, calling across the road to their mates, swinging by on their bicycles, one lass stopping outside our house to haul her skirt up well above her knees to what is obviously the required length for coolness (or whatever the appropriate word is in today’s teen lingo.) Even better, a quick visit from granddaughter Eleanor, on her way to her placement in a local hospital, taking a detour to drop off a foil dish containing apple crumble for our dinner. Life feels (almost) normal.


I’ve been spending around an hour a day tending the gardens, front and back. As I have explained before, where gardening is concerned I am not much of a digger or a delver. More a potterer by nature. Eleanor tells me “pottering” was just one of the many strange terms she had to try to explain to a friend for whom English is not his first language. Our son-in-law, Rules Is Rules, learnt English by watching Only Fools and Horses so rarely needs such explanations. 


You may think I am digressing but actually there is a point here. One of my favourite stories from Only Fools and Horses was the tale of Trigger’s Broom. Mr B and I were reminded of it the other day while reading David Jason’s latest book “A Del of a Life.” Trigger (played by the inestimable Roger Lloyd Pack) was awarded a medal by the local Council on account of his broom still going strong after twenty years’ service. The fact that said broom had had seventeen new heads and fourteen new handles over the course of its working life wasn’t allowed to get in the way of such a well-deserved award. 


Was it only coincidence, I ask myself, that applying myself to some extremely rigorous sweeping in a bid to clear the pathway between the main part of the garden and what the grandchildren like to call “The Secret Garden”, the head of my own garden broom snapped clean away from the handle in mid-sweep? If I were Trigger, of course, I would simply affix a new handle. Followed by a new broom head, if that didn’t work.


My great grandfather was a brush finisher by trade, a fascinating broom-related fact which I discovered some years ago from studying the 1881 Census. I did wonder why he felt the need to be so very specific - why not a brush-maker, pure and simple? I discovered, some time later, that the finishing of brushes was the most skilled part of broom manufacture; it was pride in his workmanship that led William Usher to describe himself thus. It’s rather like Mr B who will always tell anyone who asks that he was a “compositor” rather than a printer - even though most people won’t necessarily know what a compositor is / does.


Later this month we will all be required to fill in Census 2021. Some people, for sure, will play the usual games of describing themselves as Jedi Knights or whatever. As a Working Gal, all those years ago, it was my team which had the task of explaining the importance of completing the Census to local people, a good number of whom didn’t speak English as their first language and others who regarded the request for information with the same suspicion as some people today view the offer of vaccination against COVID-19. 


I’m glad that William Usher filled in his Census form so precisely, giving me an insight into the craftsman he was. Let’s hear it for the broom makers, all of us who have ever swept too hard and too vigorously, necessitating the purchase of yet another garden tool (or part thereof.) Well done, in particular, to William for applying the finishing touches!


Trigger - and I - have much to thank him for.


Write a new comment: (Click here)

Characters left: 160
DONE Sending...
See all comments

| Reply

Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

You liked this page
Make your own website like I did.
It's easy, and absolutely free.