A friend of mine called me up at 8.30 in a Sunday morning. He said that he was parked outside my house and would like to invite himself to breakfast. His car was packed to the gunnels with old garden machinery he had hoped to car boot. It was raining and blowing a gale so he gave up and opted for my house.

Together with his hairy retriever puppy and not so hairy son, we ate breakfast, and spent the rest of the morning chatting. Finally, they stood up to leave because they now needed to go home to unpack the enormous quantity of old tools from his car and put them back in the shed. My friends’ son asked me, “Hey, would you like a chain saw or a band saw?” I said it was a kind offer but declined. “There’s nothing wrong with them and you could cut your own wood.” My friend just laughed.

I gave up any garden implement, sharper that a trowel, some time ago. For years I chopped my own wood with a small axe purchased especially for the purpose. Then came the fated day that the son came home and spotted me in the act with the axe.

He thought, that considering my poor track record with kitchen knives, an axe was an amputation waiting to happen. He pointed out that he had never seen anyone chop wood by calculating each swing by touch. He did not consider this a reliable method of ensuring that the next blow was not likely to sever a limb. I thought this approach was a perfectly rationale adaptation. I had no intention of chopping off my left hand.

The upshot of this was that the son took over wood responsibilities and I have never managed to find that axe, even though I suspect he did not take it with him when he left home.

For years I pruned my hedge with an electric hedge trimmer. I did this by measuring the amount of hedge I wanted to lose and then giving it my best guess. I only ever had two mishaps, slicing through the cable, but that’s what the safety mechanism is for.

I have to say that I felt rather proud of the results. The hedge looked just fine to me, but after many years of this routine, my neighbour came home to find me up a step ladder hard at work with the hedge trimmer. He made no bones about my lack of fitness to handle heavy machinery.

I confess outrage at such forthright criticism and complained to my other neighbour about this unjustified assault on my handy work. She was far from sympathetic. “Alleluia. Finally, you wont’ have a hedge that looks like bad topiary.” I pulled a face. “It’s completely wonky.” She said. Obviously I disagree.

So, to be offered a band saw and and chain saw all in one morning was tempting. I had a fleeting vision: I am revving up the chain saw and lowering my visor in preparation for chopping up a large tree trunk that I heroically dragged home and that I will be burning before the day is out. Instead, I am resigned to paying my ninety pounds for a load of winter logs that are delivered and neatly stacked.

The urge for machinery has not quite subsided and I have been on line looking at log splitters. This seems to offer the optimum outcome in helping to support a myth of heavy endeavour, I feel, is required in making a fire. It has the added advantage of being a near silent vice that I can exercise in the privacy of my garden without alerting the neighbours.