Regular Talking Bull readers and subscribers will recall the frequent articles loosely contained under a “Twilight Zone” banner. In the latest of these Glynis Wright finds Edgar Street enveloped within a parallel universe…where you can hear the grass grow.
Ben Bowen is responsible for the somewhat vexing task of looking after the business end of Edgar Street, i.e.: the pea-green swarth which comprises the pitch. He also ‘does’ the lawns at Pearl Lake Leisure Park; where ‘Im Indoors and I happen to own a van; unsurprisingly, my other half always makes a beeline for ‘yer man’ whenever he’s sighted performing his grassy duties there. Over a pint, Ben outlined a very strange tale indeed.
Ben’s bete noir had been the barren straight lines that invariably appeared in front of the main stand, running parallel courses towards the Len Weston. In his somewhat perfectionist view, these unspeakable post-season ruts made Edgar Street’s surface resemble a village pub’s, so Something Had To Be Done. But what? Our hero had already tried every reputable UK seed merchant going, but no grass species seemed to fit the bill; given that the Bulls lacked the ackers to dig up the pitch, the solution could only come via sourcing a grass variety hardy enough to withstand the attentions of great lumbering defenders, and desperate midfielders summer and winter alike – but where?
It was at a party, strangely enough, that Ben found a possible solution to his woes. Also at this party was a fellow grass-basher, one of great repute, it so happened. Seeing our lad’s contorted face when describing the problem, Ben’s mate promised to have words with an expert in the States, no less; even better, he was a high-up researcher at a university over there. The look of gratitude on Ben’s face had to be seen to believed; the phrase ‘well up the grovel path’ doesn’t even come near.
Three weeks passed, by which time Mr. Bowen had almost forgotten the whole thing – then came the phone call from the club announcing the mysterious arrival of an unrequited sack of grass seed – and could he shift it quick, as it was blocking up the entrance to ‘Radford’s’? It’s fair to say that Ben’s trip back to the ground broke just about every law in sight, astrophysics included. Ben needed those blasted seeds, and needed ‘em fast!
Upon arrival, two wondrous sights greeted our hero: a bulging hessian sack, and a (eyes bulging. well-irate) Chairman. It didn’t help either that lacking other personnel to shift the thing, Ben had to enlist the help of the office crew, plus a phalanx of surprised shoppers, a Scottie dog and two giggling 5 year-olds, to manhandle the thing through the building, and on to the running track surrounding the pitch. Once done, one little girl offered him a consolatory lick of her lolly. “That man in the nice shirt and tie isn’t half saying some funny words at you. He talks just like my Daddy does when he puts his foot on my Lego. And he’s gone a funny red colour – is he poorly?”
Not daring to answer, Ben thanked all his helpers, then turned to look at what he hoped would save the day; attached was a cover note-cum-return address label, which read:
DEPARTMENT OF BIOGENETICS
HIRAM J WACKENHAUSER MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY
NOT FOR PUBLIC SALE.
“My beauties, my saviours!” Ben cried, lovingly embracing the contents. Opening the sack proved easy; examination revealed – well – grass seed. A little bigger and plumper than the ‘normal’ lot – but what the hell… And, before you could say ‘Percy Thrower’, Ben had hitched up his digger, prepared his soil, and got the damn things sown, like all good ‘seedy’ chaps should. Just as well that the lad kept quiet about putting the floodlights on to get the job done in one session.
Days passed as Ben dutifully attended the ground to nourish and cherish what he now called ‘his babies’. Patience pays off; before too long, a green fuzz began to adorn what had hitherto been completely barren soil. Had our lad been Aristotle, he would have jumped out of a bath and shouted “Eureka!”, but he wasn’t and he owned a shower anyway, so Ben simply contented himself with a somewhat blasphemous: “Thank God for that!”
More days passed, and as the stuff grew further, the more Ben became puzzled. Nothing basically wrong; on the contrary, there stood before him a swarth that wasn’t just green, it positively glowed! And the way it swayed in the breeze – or was it the breeze? Every time he moved left, so did the embryonic grass; ditto a move to the right. And was that a sigh of satisfaction he heard every time he watered the stuff? Logically enough, our man rapidly put it all down to overwork, then equally rapidly disappeared in the direction of the pub.
And what about what Sherlock Holmes might have called ‘The Case Of The Disappearing Avians’? No need for a detective, though; the real problem was – they’d gone from Edgar Street! Poof! Disappeared! No seagulls, pigeons, crows, starlings or sparrows! Even the odd stray moggy to be seen ran like hell the minute it jumped over the wall. Ooer.` Normally, our lad hated birds because they pinched newly-sown seed, and crapped on his grass – but none at all? But being an eternal optimist and pragmatist, Ben simply ‘kept calm and carried on’. After all, wasn’t the absence of the ruddy things a bonus? Yet, there was still an underlying uneasiness about the new pitch with Ben. Glad the job’s nearly done, he thought, shuddering, even though it wasn’t cold..
One week later saw Ben’s pride and joy now grown to a most healthy and lustrous three inches high. Time for the first cut, can’t wait, he thought. Sun-hat, shirt, jacket, gumboots – on! Now for the motor mower, ready for the word of command! Swiftly bringing said vehicle through the big gates, then onto the running-track, he made ready for the culmination of his labours. Down to the desired length went the blades; on went the ignition; off went the brakes; slight flick of the throttle, then……..CRUNCHMANGLEMANGLE!
‘What the?……..’ Recovering his wits following the unrequited rapid deceleration that followed its somewhat gentler opposite number, the obscenities began to flow, mostly on the lines of ‘what blithering idiot left bricks on the ruddy pitch to wreck my mower with?’ (all expletives deleted). Oh, well – time to jump down and look at the flamin’ damage, then, he thought. Funny to think that the last thing Ben saw before alighting was zillions and zillions of beautiful blades of grass, and all seemingly staring at their daddy in a most menacing manner…..
Fast forward to the bar at Pearl Lake, then. Ben eagerly picked up his pint again.
“OK,” I said, “Your mower got mangled when you tried to mow the pitch. But that doesn’t explain how the hell you got into that state. What happened?”
“What happened? WHAT HAPPENED? As Ben spoke, his already troubled face coloured further, in direct proportion to the pitch of his voice, you might say.
“I’ll tell you what happened!” Ben screamed, rattling the glasses on the shelves almost to shattering-point, “The pitch chuffin’ well BIT ME, that’s what happened!!