Carrying on with our series of articles about British traditions, we thought that we would give food and drink a miss for a while. So don’t expect a lot of speel about fish and chip shops or warm beer. You might be curious to know why so many Britons prefer it at this temperature though, but you’ll just have to wait for that.
Our article this time is about lawns, and more specifically, lawn mowing. You may wonder why lawn mowing might seem so attractive for the British and why, for some, it is almost an addiction. You may be even more bewildered why it is done mainly on Sundays, rain or shine.
There are well over 12 million lawns in England alone. Of course, the climate helps grass grow in profusion. It is mild, damp and relatively pest-free so frequent mowing is essential unless you want your neighbours to complain about your Savannah grass height.
Francis Bacon quoted in 1625 that “Nothing is more pleasant to the eye than green grass kept finely shorn.” Groundsmen spend hours, even days tending the cricket wicket, the bowling green, the football pitch and the hockey field. Referees and umpires will dutifully inspect the field of play befores the whistle blows for start of play.
Until not too recently grass was cut with a scythe but the invention of the lawn mower by Edwin Budding in 1830 revolutionised tending. It took a lot of the sweat and tears out of grass cutting. The arrival of the motor mower at the turn of the century completely turned on its head British Sundays. They had more time now for more enjoyable pursuits like the Sunday pint at the Local. In 1902 the self-propelled forty-two inch lawn mower with a saddle was being used by Cadbury’s at their Bournville plant, which brought a more decorative addition to the lawn because it was able to provide that broad striped zebra effect so familiar now throughout Britain.
Despite the unfortunate intrusion of paving stone and coloured gravel in our gardens, lawns are still a very common feature and you will frequently see many a Briton mowing his or her lawn on a Sunday afternoon. There is even a sort of competiveness in neighbourhoods as to who has the best tended lawn. Walkers and passers-by will usually ignore what you are doing in your downstairs living room and focus much more on the aesthetic beauty of your finely trimmed and mown front lawn.
Happy English learning!!