THERE is a debate going on across backgammon tables right across this country.
On one side is a dedicated band of hardcore, some might even say “old school” users with toned calf muscles and a love of exercise.
On the other are those craving efficiency, comfort, headlights, dual blades and the desire to own a backyard the size of Ecuador.
And in the third corner is some weirdo wearing a legionnaires cap who walked in too late to the conversation and has never been able to catch up - just ignore him.
The argument between push-mower knowers and ride-on reckoners is one that has raged for centuries.
The difference of opinion between the two parties would rival that between fighting factions over the Gaza Strip, only there would be conjecture as to exactly how the strip itself should be mowed.
With Spring now in full swing and a symphony of grass cutting to be heard, my advice is: be careful not to be drawn into this fight.
Random midnight blade length adjustments between rival neighbours are not uncommon, as is swapping grass catchers for non-matching models; it can get ruthless.
It has seen the rise of gang colours and groups such as the Victas; the Briggs and Strattons; the Coxes; the Rovers; the Hondas; the Toros; and the lesser known Chinese faction, the Golden Rabbits.
I have consciously steered away* from showing a bias toward one or the other, not for a lack of approaches from various parties might I say.
In the summer of 1995 I arrived home to find a pack of six ride-on mowers parked on my front lawn with some serious looking drivers leaning on them, each sporting their customary Ruggers shorts and elastic-side T-Boots.
A portly gentlemen who seemed to be the leader (he had the latest model Greenfield, complete with optional catcher attachment), with one foot upon my letter box, put an offer “on the table”.
I politely refused. They all paused for a moment, then fired up their “four-wheel lawn hogs” (as they called them) and moved on, thankfully without scalping my Sir Walter on the way out.
It would be inappropriate to publish the details of the offer, but needless to say I would never have had to sharpen my own mower blades ever again.
At the other end of the scale, I’ve opened my lawn locker to find a brand new air filter fitted to my push mower, with a tag bearing the traditional push-mower party logo (A pair of legs wearing old joggers). It was a cunning ploy to entice me.
Still, I was thankful both incidents were relatively subtle. I’ve heard of a fellow gardening celebrity (let’s just refer to him as “The Don”) who woke up with a four-stroke piston head on the pillow beside him. Scary stuff.
Truth be known, I own both a ride-on mower and a push-mower. I am careful to be seen using each of them for exactly the same amounts of time.
Personally, I think we as gardeners need to rise above this ride-on/push-mower war.
For too long our children have witnessed families divided and friendships torn over cutting circumferences and fuel efficiency.
For too long have we endured painful spines due to poor lower back support or aching shoulders from constant cord pulling, both in an effort to save face and stay true to the practice of our forefathers.
For too long gardening retailers have greedily fed on the known allegiances and recommended unnecessary belt replacements and exhaust guards.
Now is the time for reconciliation; now is the time to bury the differences between wheel compaction and under-tree access.
Now is the time for change.
*NOTE: No assumptions should be made from this sentence as to how that ‘steering away from’ was done, be it hand-propelled or via a steering wheel.