The oddest thing happened to me a fortnight ago. I was cycling to my job at the local country park, where I work as a groundsman of sorts, when a tipper truck with wood chipper attached slows up beside me. I expect the driver to be asking for directions, but no, he says: “Do you want a job?” I am obviously puzzled. “What?” “Do you want a job?” Who doesn’t, so I suggest he parks ahead.
I ride up alongside in a layby and ask for more details. It turns out that he and his son need help with their tree and landscaping business. “But I can’t drive,” I reply. No problem, he responds. “We will pick you up at 8am every morning and bring you back by around 3pm.” It was a moment, on my saddle by the road, I could not believe and will never forget. He had only slowed to recruit me on seeing the orange handles of my Fiskar pruners sticking out of the bike basket. Orange, everyone knows, sets professionals a little aloft in the tree world.
Work at the country park has been diminishing since the season’s end and I have been needing some money. Only that morning I had wondered how I might find another job. Despite not really knowing the job spec, I found the offer too tempting to refuse. So three days later I am picked up on the dot of 8am and off we go for my first day as an assistant treeman and landscaper.
Since then I have helped erect two long fences and the chipped branches from a series of felled or topped conifers, cherry trees and silver birch. I get breakfast and lunch for free and am delivered home between 1pm and 5pm, depending on where we have been working and how many jobs we have to do. I enjoy the company and the hard work, and like being told what to do. And I have time to read and write in the truck between stops, and can do research for Hidden Talents, my book proposal about the unlikely hobbies of the great and the good. What’s not to like?