Big Bushes, Full Bushes.

I am livid. Livid at the utter stupidity of what has just happened to my parents’ home back in the UK.

I shall just copy’n’stick into this post the letter I sent to their council yesterday, as it says it all.

If anyone has any experience of a similar sort of idiocy, please let me know what you did about it…

Dear Sir, Madam,

I am writing to you concerning the degradation of what used to be a pretty hedge on one of the most sought after streets in Newport Pagnell; Chicheley Street.
The hedge belongs to my mother and step-father, Helen and Malcolm Bullett, who live at n° 16 Chicheley Street. They planted it 30 years ago, as a greener, more beautiful alternative to putting up a fence, albeit a more expensive one. For 30 years they have given the hedge the care and attention it requires to keep it healthy and trimmed.
However, on the 20th of December, Mr Bullett received a letter
from Milton Keynes council ordering him to get the hedge cut right back. Apparently a ‘friendly’ neighbour (who has since been identified by other, much friendlier neighbours, as Paul Alexander, Lib Dem councillor for Newport Pagnell) had secretly complained the hedge was slightly encroaching on the pavement. It wasn’t actually stopping anyone from walking along the pavement, as there was still ample space to get by, even with a wheelchair or a pushchair.
Heather Baker from the council visited Mr Bullett and with a tree surgeon they discussed the issue. The tree surgeon said that by cutting the hedge back that far, all you would see from the outside was the trunks and dead, brown branches. It would be very ugly he warned, and would never ever grow back again. He also pointed out that the hedge was not preventing anyone from walking along it, whether on foot or in a wheelchair. Heather Baker still ordered Mr Bullett to cut the hedge right back; yet another example of someone “just doing my job”, without reflecting on the reality of this case (the hedge WASN’T preventing anyone walking along the pavement) and without taking into consideration the ugliness her decision entailed, not to mention the upset to my parents and to all the neighbours living around them.
Here is a photo of Mr Bullett’s hedge on the 11th of January 2013, after 30 years of care and attention. You can also see the pavement. The hedge is clearly not stopping anyone from walking along the pavement. Nor a wheelchair, nor a baby pushchair.
And here is the hedge after the instructions issued by Milton Keynes council were carried out.
I think you will agree that not much has been gained and a lot has been lost. What was once a beautiful, green hedge which added to the beauty of the street, is now an ugly, brown, hacked back row of trunks and branches. The only alternative now is to put up a fence, but my father cannot afford this (the tree surgeon has already cost him more than he can afford; he is 85, living on a small pension), and even if he could, it would also be a lot less pretty than the original green hedge. So this is what now surrounds his home, on one of the loveliest streets in Newport Pagnell.
I am writing to you at environmental services, because I would like somebody at Milton Keynes Council to at least take stock of the idiocy of this situation and to do something about it. Maybe Heather Baker could be given better training in making decisions concerning this sort of thing. It is too late to save this hedge, but maybe other hedges can be saved. And maybe the council could pay for something else to be planted to hide the ugly sight that now lines one side of Chicheley Street.
Mr Bullett has been stopped numerous times by neighbours deploring the council’s actions and encouraging him to send the story and these photos to the press. He is too mild to do that. But I am his daughter and I am furious.
I await your response.
Yours sincerely,
Claire Bullett
As Sister 2 remarked: “BIG BUSHES, FULL BUSHES!!”… forever. 

Onion head

Having gone for the chop in March and then re-chopped in May, July, and September, I have decided that I am bored with my short hair. So, off I embark on a long, embarrasing journey of hair-growing. This will of course mean going through various stages of very dodgy haircuts,

At the moment I resemble an onion.  Or a Beatle. The Paul McCartney type.

L’Homme thinks I look more like a mushroom.

If I blow dry my hair I look like Princess Diana.

I would rather look like an onion or a mushroom than Princess Diana.

Soon my hair will grow a few inches and I will look like Purdey.

(now, she really does look like a mushroom).

And then I’ll be more of a George Harrison Beatle.

And then a Stone. A Rolling One.

But at the moment it is definitely an onion look. When I said this to a couple of my friends the other day, the male one of the two cracked up. I thought it was because I had made an absolutely spot-on judgement concerning my haircut and the vegetable it is best at imitating, but no. It turns out that in French “onion” means “vagina”. It took me a few minutes to understand why. I ran through a few theories in my head. Do French fannies smell of onions? Are onions used for curing venereal diseases? Do most French men cry when they have sex?  (Not the ones I’ve met … maybe I’m doing something wrong. Or right). Is it to do with peeling bits back? Or off? OW. I frowned at my friend questioningly. He grinned and mimed chopping an onion in half and then outlined the pointy-at-both-ends curvy oval form of the layers. Oh. I see. So we could also say that “almond” or “eye” or “certain Christmas decorations” are also nicknames for vagina. In any case, with this context in mind, he finds it very funny that I think I look like an onion.

Coincidentally, that same evening I read Chapter 3 (“I Don’t Know What To Call My Breasts!”) of Caitlin Moran’s new book “How To Be A Woman”. Sister One sent me the book for my birthday and when I read the title I thought “right, so she thinks I’m STILL not a woman, I’m STILL a hardcore tomboy, despite going through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, a reputation for wearing miniskirts too short to be seen with the naked eye, inventing my own 2-second t-shirt folding technique and wearing rubber gloves on a daily basis.” But when I started reading it I realised that Caitlin Moran is also a hardcore tomboy and that in fact, the term Hardcore Tomboy roughly translates as Strident Feminist. Caitlin may well throw this theory to the ground and mud-wrestle it until it croaks its final splutter, but I think I might have a thing going here – one I need to develop further when I don’t have aubergines burning in the wok. Anyway, Chapter 3 talks about what we call our bits. Our breasts and vaginas. Or rather, what a strange range of words are used by various men, women and wierdos to refer to their bits. Caitlin covers most of them, from Flower to Hole to Minge to La-la to Tinkle to Bush to Honeypot to Flaps to Cunt to Newport Pagnell Service Station (erm, that last one isn’t in her book). It is fascinating, at least to those of us even vaguely interested in fanny etymology. And of course, here in France there is a whole new range of names. “La Chatte”, for a female cat, is the equivalent of our rather soft, yet stale, porn-film-generated ‘pussy’, and in French is quite vulgar, or so L’Homme tells me. “Foufoune” sounds like fanny and is the word children use to refer to their front bottom. So do I actually, probably because I have learnt a lot of my French vocabulary along with my kids. I quite like “touffe” – although it sounds like toffee, NOT a good thing to put down your pants. But “onion”?! I simply cannot imagine ANY Frenchwoman saying “I must get my onion looked at by my gynaecologist”, or “I shouldn’t have waxed my onion just before going swimming”. Oh, of course – the women don’t use this word at all – it’s the men who do.

In this context, my unfortunate hairstyle, which I have taken to referring to as “onion head” or “tête d’oignon”, may well, to French ears, sound like a sexual technique. This is not what I want to imply. I simply think I look like a common or garden onion. Not a look to boast about, I know, but it’s quite a liberating feeling to go out into the big wide world looking slightly ridiculous and not being able to do anything about it. You just accept it and get on with things. And a lot less lorry drivers ogle at you. Or at your onion.

(Footnote : the French can’t believe we use the word “Fanny” to refer to their “foufoune”. There are about  a thousand new little baby Fannys born each year in France.)