Please do, let the grass grow under your feet.

It was rather dreich when I got up, rain drizzling away merrily. On the internet at around 11 am I had an e-mail to say that there would be an AUOB (all under one banner) gathering in Caird Hall Square in Dundee today at one o’clock. Better get my skates on. I always go to these events, for there is little point in sitting in the house, moaning about the world on social media if you are not willing to get off your bazooka and do something about it.

By the time the bus made it over to Dundee, the clouds had lifted and the sun was out, the sun will always shine on the righteous.

There was not what you would call a big crowd,

the gathering as I arrived at around 12.45 pm

then I was early, and by the time I left the square was filling up. The live music was very good and the speakers a breath of fresh air, for like all of these gatherings, they really are AUOB and from an array of causes. I particularly enjoyed the speaker on Freeing Julian Assange. The injustices of Julian Assange is plain for all to see, and the longer the English government keep him locked up, at the bequest of the US government, the more they show their contempt for the law, journalists, free speech and civil liberties.

The show was still going strong when I left an hour or so later, and I’m sure he said the first march AUOB, this year will be Stirling in September. Awkward place to get to from here, although I do hear that there is a direct bus from Dundee – will check that out nearer the time.

I bought myself three new (to me) short-sleeved shirts from the charity shop, it is so hot in the building you need to be dressed for summer all the year-round. Anyway it is about time I started looking a bit tidier, when you are indoors so much you tend not to bother about your appearance. But as my mum was tired of telling me,

“It, doesn’t matter what I put on you, you still manage to look like nobodies bairn.”

I grew up in a different world to the one we know now. My parents were still being asked to “Dig for Victory” – whilst I was still playing in muddy puddles. And even after the war ended the gardening for many continued, for we still had rationing and no supermarkets. As the council house building programme took off the houses were designed, with large drying greens, (no automatic washing machines then) and room to grow vegetables. Many towns and villages still retained their allotments. At school, we were taught gardening, and all sorts of useful stuff like, how to remove the seeds from tomato and dry them between sheets of blotting paper before planting. Councils still, employed gardeners, had their own nurseries and planted out and maintained parks and gardens within the towns and cities, not as they do today, contract out grass cutting, and hand out money to charitable organisations to plant flowers in the streets.

A quick search on the internet and you will find an entire industry based on lawn care, something that had up until now escaped me. These fully trained operatives will scarify, hollow time aeration, pest eradication, top dressing, lichen removal, overseeding and even a complete lawn renovation programme. They will, at the drop of a hat, or at least the crossing of palms with silver, swiftly and expertly sort out a nasty case of thatch, chafer grub infestation, red thread, leather jackets, moles, or any of the myriad of other threats to the creation and maintenance of that perfect lawn.

You see, we humans, in general, do not like change. For many people, the grass is supposed to be short, anything other is untidy, and the result of laziness or council cutbacks. In fact, in many cities in the US, lawns have to be mown regularly. Local ordinances dictate a maximum lawn height, and low betide the delinquent that thinks otherwise you will be fined.

In 2014 Peterborough Council initiated a scheme in which several areas of the park were to be left a windflower meadow, to be cut once per year, and some other areas were designated for cutting three times per year. They found that this gave them an annual saving of £24,000 in deduced labour and petrol, (and helped to save the planet). The e-mails flooded in as did ‘Letters to the Editor’ in the local press, people do not like change. I’m with Peterborough Council on this one, and I wish others would follow suit.

Grass has managed to survive for millions of years without our help. In a healthy garden there should be a diverse community of insects, millipedes, centipedes, slugs, worms, not to mention the countless microbes, living in the soil beneath the turf.

These soil insects are an important part of the food chain. Leatherjackets (Leatherjackets hatch into crane flies, daddy-long-legs), are one of the favourite foods of Starlings, a species that has undergone alarming declines in recent years. The population of Starling has fallen by two-thirds since the mid-1970s – when it comes to lawns and their maintenance, less is definitely more.

Keep safe. 

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