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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leaf Blowing as an Art Form

I’ve just spent ten minutes watching a man in an orange boiler suit weaving strange patterns across the lawn.  He is chasing leaves: Chasing yellow and gold autumn leaves across the grass whilst the breeze picks them up and swirls them back whence they came in bizarre, random arrangements. He is wielding that utterly baffling piece of modern technology the leaf blower.  Anyone who has ever gardened will know that the job can be done in half the time and at a quarter the effort with a rake and a stiff broom. So why is he bothering?

Coopers of Stortford Leaf Blower VacuumObviously the leaf blower has some function for garden contractors because the prehistoric visceral din demonstrates to the garden owner that work is being done, technology is being brought to bear, fuel is being used and the contractor can thus present a hefty bill each month sure in the knowledge that it will be willingly paid.

And yet we know, the general British public, those of us with gardens, or those who have tried to grab a few hours extra kip on a Sunday morning that the leaf blower is an expensive piece of kit that’s only function is to make a loud, unrelenting noise. So, why do we buy them up in vast numbers from B&Q and garden Centres?  Are they just to annoy the neighbours or is there some deeper need that is being satisfied?  Now it has struck me.  Given that a leaf blower is a piece of equipment that has no other function than to make a noise, it should in fact be classified as a musical instrument.  A loud and not a very harmonious one, I agree but a musical instrument by definition. The intricate patterns our boiler suited man is making across the grass, chasing the breeze is nothing short of ballet.  Leaf blowing is an art form. A strange, useless performance art that tells us something about the pointlessness of life in the twenty-first century.  It is existential in a way the even Jean Paul Sartre would understand. It is called "The Challenge of the Breeze" or "Random Arrangements in Yellow and Gold" or some such. It should be reclassified from being a gardening pursuit and brought under the control of the Arts Council of England (Other arts bodies are available). That way we would never hear of it again and we could sleep peacefully in our beds on a Sunday morning.

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