Early this year – in the very depth of winter, in point of fact – our regular window-cleaners stopped coming.
We noticed, one cold, bright day, that the sunshine was illuminating just how grimy our windows were; and with that discovery, we realised that we had not seen our window-cleaners for weeks. And we were unable to contact them, for the simple reason that they had initially rung our doorbell many years ago in the time when we still washed our own windows, asked if we would like them to do the work, quoted a very fair price and, having done the windows to our complete satisfaction, made us realise that they did a better job than we did in less than half the time. So we agreed that they would come approximately every fortnight and that we would pay them on the day, it being further agreed that, if we were not in when they called, they would leave a slip through the door and we would pay them the next time we saw them. No names were noted, no addresses, no telephone numbers; and the arrangement has worked admirably for decades.
In their absence, I decided that I would resume washing the windows myself and bought a telescopic window washing tool to reach the upstairs windows. And what brings this to mind is the delivery, with our Sunday newspaper, of a chirpy leaflet with numerous bargains in gardening tools and equipment, its front cover featuring two ladies in appropriate attire, one smilingly wielding a ‘9 foot Telescopic Hedge Trimmer’ and the other cheerfully using a ‘9 foot 5 inch Telescopic Angled Branch Lopper’. Ladies, I envy you your apparent strength, which would put the average Amazon to shame; and I hope I never cross swords with either of you, for I think you could break any of my limbs with the greatest of ease!
Perhaps it is my advancing years and corresponding physical decline, but I found my telescopic window washing tool more than a trifle unwieldy in anything more than its unextended mode. The seemingly-rigid handle became surprisingly-flexible and correspondingly difficult to control, its business end’s contact with the windows dangerously erratic, varying from hitting the glass sideways on to doing no more than leaning against it. Meanwhile, the liquid intended for cleaning the glazing ran down the handle and down the sleeves of my jacket as well as dripping into my eyes. “Trim the tops of your high hedges quickly, easily and safely, keeping both feet on the ground. With this telescopic hedge trimmer,” reads the text accompanying the illustration of one tool … and yes, the full stop after ‘ground’ and the following capital letter are in the original text. The branch lopper’s blurb is even more enthusiastic. “Its specially angled 10” Oregon bar means there’s now even more control over your cutting action, so combine this with ultra-low vibration, terrific power, adjustable length and the best quality chain on the market and here’s a piece of gardening equipment you’ll feel like carrying on working with hour after hour.”
Uh-huh. Elsewhere in the leaflet I find a rechargeable garden saw with free extension handles; petrol and electric versions of a 4-in-1 multitool which extends to more than 9½ feet; a cordless 2-in-1 chainsaw and hedge trimmer with a 9 foot reach; a 3 metre telescopic hedge trimmer and chainsaw; and a 2-in-1 telescopic and standard reach hedge trimmer. That range of tools must surely satisfy the height of any gardener’s ambition! But, since I was delighted to retire my telescopic window cleaning tool when my regular window cleaners reappeared from hibernation in the spring, I shall make do without any of them and shall settle for envying the women … and men, for the leaflet illustrates both genders using the tools … who still have the physical strength and dexterity to master these no doubt invaluable bits of kit.