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As the years passed, living alone with my pets, I concede to a little eccentricity and reflect back occasionally to amusing events in the past. I reminisce over the problems that had arisen when my then wife and I had first moved to our house. It had realised upon me a rude awakening when trying to find time to manage home chores. On my own now, working odd hours in a busy hospital, the shiftwork and weather were all factors that frustrated my efforts to cope with jobs around the house. But, in particular, there were few tasks less appealing to me than mowing the lawn, especially after arriving home exhausted from a busy day in the hospital operating theatre suite where I worked.

Existing now in a pecuniary vacuum, consequent of my divorce, my income had not yet stretched to the luxury of a new mower; having to constantly balance my finances against more pressing needs. In the corner of the garage, teeming in an aura of defiance stood my aged mowing machine, unceremoniously named 'The Black Beast'. In the past, it had always been my wife who had pointed out when the lawn needed mowing; leaving subtle notes. But now there was no need to generate excuses. I was my own boss. During the past the weather had never aided me in the search for an excuse to get out of it, always providing prime conditions. But the job now was left to my discretion, and irritatingly prompted, on occasion, by my lawn's bid to plunge my house into 'darkest Berriscot'. Symbolically speaking, the final nail would always be driven into my coffin, leaving me little choice other than to resign myself to the task.

Motivating myself on these occasions, I would reluctantly enter the garage, sending a shaft of light across the floor which, by coincidence, came to rest upon a pile of cherished rubbish. The inanimate Beast, settled behind, seemed to shudder in the movement of my shadow as I approached. Rebellious of the intrusion, it appeared to duck even further behind. But committed to the task, I would set about the job of extracting it; usually negotiating endless frustration where the Beast seemed to grasp at everything within its vicinity to complicate my efforts to free it. But airing a determination fuelled by an elevated temper and temperature, I would trundle it out onto the lawn to prepare it for the starting ritual.

It usually required numerous pulls and several plug cleanings, before a fairly audible bang sent the Beast into a frenzied quivering roar. There was never a moment to lose. Having achieved the upper hand in this first round, I would set off, calculating, from past experiences, how long I had before its first tantrum. For the majority of times, this proved to be three or four minutes, culminating in a loud bang that enveloped me in clouds of black smoke. It infuriated me as silence fell upon us. That no matter how I positioned the exhaust on the Beast, it always seemed to phut! in my direction.

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