April 5, 2007 at 10:27 am | Posted in bushes, tales of youth | 18 Comments

Ah, the humble hedge. Decorative feature, provider of privacy, storer of stashed booze for students after the club of an evening. What a versatile creature you are! And what good times we’ve had together. Walking to work on this beautiful spring morning, the first glorious leaves budding on the trees and bushes of Glasgow, I was struck with a nostalgia so intense I was nearly paralysed. So many defining moments of my youth are hedge- and tree-related, and the sight of a particularly well-manicured example shining in the sun-sparkled morning

it's a fucking hedge, what more description could you need?

was enough to fling me headlong from the footpath of today through the hedge of history into the well-tended garden of childhood memories. Is that metaphor contrived enough for you?

There was Simple Jim, for one. Poor, doomed Simple Jim. We just called him Jim back then, of course. He was a sound enough lad, a bit of an eejit but harmless really. He once went blind for two days after drinking some black stuff in Kenneth Madden’s dad’s shed. Kenneth told him it was Coke, so Jim had a swig, even though (a) it was on a shelf in a shed and (b) it was in a glass bottle with “Poison – Do not drink” and a skull on it.

We used to play football in a little park flanked on two sides by houses, with a road opening at one end. The fourth side was dominated by an enormous hedge about seven feet high. Enormous is a relative term, but when you’re eight years old, seven feet is Everestian* in its giganticity*.

Being shite, we often kicked the ball into the bushes, and on occasion, it would get stuck on top. Usually, a couple of you standing underneath to shake the hedge was enough to dislodge the ball and allow you to continue the bone-displacing mayhem that passed for soccer. Sometimes, though, particularly in summer when the growth was thickest, the ball would get stuck up high, and we’d have to pick one of the plentiful crop of unemployed dads on the estate to come and get it down for us.

On the day Jim became Simple, there were no dads.

Someone, I forget who, kicked the ball out, and it landed right in the top of the hedge and wedged itself there. Trying to get it down was futile. We shook branches, we leapt at it, we shouted curses at it, but nothing would work. In those days, kicking a ball was about all any of us did, so to be without one was simply not an option.

We hadn’t noticed that Jim had disappeared until we saw him coming back, carting a brick – one of those ones that rich cunts used to monoblock their driveways.

“Out the way lads” he said, and we acquiesced to the authoritarian tone. Normally we wouldn’t have afforded Jim such respect, but we were in awe at this brainwave from such an unexpected source. Fucking brilliant idea, we all agreed.

Jim never really thought things through. We stood and watched him do a couple of practice aiming swings at the ball, then he flung the brick into the air, hopelessly off target. Straight up in the air, in fact. The brick reached the apex of its acute arc, briefly hanging, silhouetted in the blazing sun, and then made a sound like a pound of warm butter dropping onto a heavy table as it collided with Jim’s head. Thumph.

We called him Simple Jim after that. He didn’t seem to mind. He didn’t really have a mind to mind with.

I have loads of other stories about bushes, but this has gone on long enough for one day.

*yes, these are words.



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  1. I bet the brick hung in the air in much the same way a Vogon spaceship doesn’t. Does Simple Jim go around shouting resistance is useless a lot since then?

  2. Sadly, Jim passed on after a brief heroin addiction in the early nineties. He used to get his dog to lick his abscesses and they got infected. As the priest said at the funeral “Many would say it’s a pity the brick didn’t hit him a bit harder all those years ago”.

  3. Kav you crack me up and that is a serious hedge metaphor you have going on.

  4. Giganticity is a perfectly cromulent word.

    Hedges are also a bastard to cut.

  5. flirty: Ah you’re lovely so you are. And it was a serious hedge.

    Dario: I don’t know about that, but it certainly embiggens that sentence.

  6. Once upon a time in SF”s Golden Gate park, I spent some quality time with some friends flinging a log up into a very large tree that held our soccer ball, we were at a BBQ when an impromptu game of Gaelic Football started, hence ball in tree. In our drunken state, (Irish guys, BBQ..), we decided a large nearby log would be perfect to dislodge the ball. This became a game in an of itself, to the extent that a small crow gathered wondering which of the drunken Irish log throwers would get killed first. Amazingly we did eventually knock the ball out of the tree, and no deaths resulted. AND my wife captured the whole thing on video – to our later embarrassment

  7. BTW Kav – thanks for noticing. Comments are turned back on at my place.

  8. John: That is quality. But tell me, did this crow fly off once you had got the ball back down?

  9. He did indeed – damn typing!

  10. Great picture!

  11. That picture looks like a load of dwarfs setting off on a roller coaster. They’re probably all trying to impress Snow White with their bravery. What they don’t know is that she’s off behind the dodgems with Dopey who, it turns out, isn’t nearly as dopey as he seem.

  12. Poor Simple Jim.

  13. He must’ve had quite an arm. I’m sure he’s still going for throwing things. Think of all the employable qualities a man like him must still possess. And he’ll never be discontent with any of it. I think I’m jealous of him.

  14. But did you get the ball back???

  15. I blame the person who kicked the ball into the hedge. You have to think if they hadn’t done that at that moment in time, Simple Jim might still be with us. But then you would have been deprived of a great story. Jim’s death, however tragic, was not in vain and if there is a lesson to be learned from his demise it would be this, if you find yourself addicted to heroin, do not let your dog lick your abscesses.

  16. A dog’s tongue should be cleaner than anything a junky has to offer.

    I myself have posted a brick attack story on Fake old man balls, oh how we are connected.

  17. You magnificent bastard. Everestian is my new favourite word.

    But be careful not to confuse “Everestian” with the legendary “Everest Ian

  18. Lela: Thanks. I borrowed it off the internet.

    Sam: Did you ever see that porn thing with the seven dwarves naked. No? Oh right…I’ll shut up now.

    jali: You’re too empathetic. Never mind Jim.

    kara: Ignorance is indeed bliss. You could make a toold of yourself and it wouuldn’t matter because YOU DON’T CARE.

    steph: Hell yeah. We just kept playing football after the ambulance left.

    Eddie: I can see why he let the dog lick them though – they were on his cock, after all.

    Knudsen: You need to be more careful, your site’s getting blocked here at my work. Absolute filth you’re peddling, no doubt.

    Niolk: The lips on yer man! I think he’s kissed one too many Eskimos.

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