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Clive Agran - a word from the Weald

PUBLISHED: 16:28 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 16:28 12 May 2014

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Clive Agran shares the local issues furrowing his brow

An inquisitive neighbour wanted to know why I only garden in the morning. Am I too tired, he asked, to resume in the afternoon? The simple answer is ‘yes’. Curiously it’s not the digging that wearies me so much as my Wellington boots. Since my wife refuses to let me wear them in the house, I’m obliged to take them off when stopping for lunch. Removing mud-plastered boots when already fatigued is pure purgatory. Pointing the toe to straighten the foot in a desperate attempt to ease removal induces immediate and painful cramp. Instead of eliciting sympathy, hopping about in agony with a boot half-on/half-off merely provides entertainment for neighbours and other casual spectators.

At this time of the year when other keen gardeners are deciding what to plant, I’m fretting over what boots to buy. It’s tricky as there is a clear conflict between comfort and durability. Heavy duty boots moulded out of the thickest rubber and with soles treaded like tractor tyres are evidently built to last. However, they are so unyielding it takes half the morning to pull them on and the other half to pull them off, which leaves no time to dig, hoe or scarify. Perhaps that’s why they last so long, because they are hardly ever worn. Soft boots have the considerable merit of being both comfortable and easy to slip into and out of. But, perversely, soft is harder on the wallet and can soft ever be hard-wearing?

Life is full of guilt

As a child growing up in a comfortable middle-class family, I felt bad about how much I had to eat when there were so many people starving in Africa and so refused second-helpings at school which, since the food was so awful, was less of a sacrifice than it might appear. At university, I felt uneasy about the privileged education I was receiving when there was so much illiteracy and ignorance in the world and so campaigned on behalf of the disadvantaged. More recently, I have developed acute embarrassment about living 230 feet above sea level when others are wading knee-deep in flood water. Instead of just feeling sorry for the altitudonally challenged, I resolved to help them. But how? Since deforestation of upland areas has contributed significantly to the problem, I have planted four fruit trees in the garden in the hope they will reduce run-off and would urge all readers to do the same.

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