Saturday 20 January 2018

A tribute to Harry - republished from 2013

Harry Poole

I misunderstood a blog comment from Sue Garrett and apologised, “I am an idiot”. She flashed back “yes I know, I met your bother-in-law at your recent Open Day. I only need  say two words, wellies and mower!”

Pratia - the joke's on me
Wellington Boot 
Outside, wellies are my uniform. I use them all of the time, even wearing shorts! I buy what at best might be called ‘bog standard’. They are at least one size too big. I like them that way, they slip on and off easily. I wear them to death. Eventually holes become apparent when I discover they squelch if I stand in a puddle. That is the signal that I need to be more careful where to put my feet. I like the extra ventilation. Eventually holes and tears become so bad someone gently inquires if I know I have a hole in my boot! Not Brenda, she gave up long ago. Eventually and reluctantly I have to throw them away. If, by my own low standards, a single boot is still wearable, I store it on my garage shelf. I might eventually have one to accompany it? There are three left boots waiting.....

Harry next door would go about his work. No, not gardening, only rarely and reluctantly. He would be tending his animals, working on some machine, do-it-your-selfing, taking wildlife pictures, computing, or more significantly, helping all and sundry when something went wrong. He was a brilliant and gifted engineer and craftsman. Although usually casual, he always wore the best. In contrast to my ten year old cheap t-shirt, his cloths were immaculate and of high quality - as were his wellington boots. 

We were regular visitors to each others homes when we would wander round for a chat and a coffee. Each time Harry came round, by his second or third coffee he would have diagnosed and repaired some household fault. In ten years he virtually rebuilt our home! We both would always remove our wellingtons at the door.

Harry had recently bought some new wellingtons from an up-market e-bay supplier. A week after his purchase he mentioned to Cathi that he was afraid they were not of the usual high quality. They noticed a small hole. They muttered about falling standards. During the next few days they became increasingly critical of the boots. They got themselves into a bit of a lather. When Harry found another small tear it was just too much. Cathi, who is a publisher and a former journalist, can be pretty acerbic! She shot off a formal complaint. I can imagine how curt and incisive it would have been. No sooner had she released her epistle into the ether, the penny dropped. Was it just possible…. Could it be that Roger?… He always takes off his wellies when he comes in...

Harry came round on a mission. ‘My’ boots were conveniently parked by the door. They were his! I think gentle Harry was really quite cross! I could imagine when Cathi would later come home, what she might say. My ears burned. They were obliged to eat humble pie and explain to the e-bay supplier that their boots were really quite perfect. They rightly blamed the idiot next door.

Harry and Cathi wrote a blog post on Brenda’s wellies. They called it

Pest Traps

Forticular auricularia hibernaculum. Common name: Earwig haven! Or more commonly referred to as Brenda's Wellies!
Unloved mower
I mulch mow my lawn. My Mountfield rotary mower has a sturdy engine and a plastic blocker at the back. All my mowings are shredded and fall to the ground. One day my engine seemed to be faltering and it’s tone unnervingly laboured. Harry immediately came round. As an engineer he could not bear the grating engine. He took it back to his workshop. He was good like that.

On another occasion my mower’s forward drive connection ceased to connect. It would need a new expensive part. I took it round to Harry. He had already seen me, red faced, pushing the wretched machine around. He cobbled together a ‘Heath Robinson’ contraption. He said if it failed he would try a different ploy. With my funny shaped lawn I do more adjusting of the drive than is normal and, sure enough, six month later I was back at his door. Eighteen months later, his Rolls Royce mark 2 invention is still working.

Quality botch -the genius of Harry Poole
Harry loved my mower. After all he knew it intimately. When he saw it seemingly abandoned on my front verge, not wishing to disturb us, he took it home. It was all Brenda’s fault! What had happened was, when I had just finished mowing she had urgently summonsed me inside to do some trivial chore. I completely forgot my mower was outside.

Harry, ever critical of my powers of observation and even doubtful of my sanity, decided to test me. He left my mower standing on his lawn, clearly in full view of my garden. He wondered how long it would be before I noticed. After three days he was starting to despair!

Dave, the aforesaid brother-in-law, was up for a visit. Harry let him in on the secret and enrolled his help.

“Harry seems to have a new mower”. 
“ Yes, I have seen it, its a bit like mine”
(Next day).
“Harry’s mower looks very like yours, Roger”
“ Yes, but mine’s bigger, wonder why he wants one. Perhaps he wants to mow his edges where his ‘ride on’ won’t go?”
(Next day)
“Is there any chance it is your mower, Roger” 
“No of course not, why should my mower be there? Mine is in the garage. His is rustier than mine anyway. It’s most unlike Harry to leave something lying around.”

They both threw in the towel. Harry pushed it home again. He declared, “I rescued it just as a passing white van had stopped to inspect it!”

Sometimes I think I am not all there.

Anyone want a mower
Loss of a dear friend and neighbour
Harry Poole was full of fun and mischief. I am sure he would approve of this frivolous post. Sadly he died on April 4  2013. Life is not the same.

Cathi has now mastered his large mower. The sprayer that Harry repaired so often has been put to good use and there are no weeds in his garden. The two-stroke hedge trimmer he mended and showed me how to start, has cut his side of the hedge. I am embarking on new planting. A memorial pear tree is waiting to go in. Part of Harry’s legacy was a huge pool of love and goodwill. Everyone has rallied round.

Cathi is selling the old Lotus Europa that Harry restored. It has been parked, unused, in his garage for the last 15 years.

Our own life has changed. Brenda has renewed the maintenance contracts on the heating and burglar alarm systems. I am fretting over the mower forward drive repair and handling my sprayer with extra care. I am wearing Harry’s wellingtons.

No words needed
New editions

I have just discovered I can republish old articles! Merely by cutting and pasting the draft of the old post - and where necessary subsequent editing. I fear that I am going to trouble you with some future repetition. Fear not I threaten to keep up the number of new posts.

For the record I have changed my policy with wellies and now buy really good ones like Harry. They last so much longer it is worth it. Wonder of wonders my mower is still working

There were some lovely tributes to Harry in the original article   that you can read here.You can read more posts about Harry and see more of his pictures by merely inserting Harry or Harry Poole in my top search box.
My more recent readers will have seen Harry's pictures of his baby rheas  They have been in my weekly top ten for almost two years now! These Harry Poole pictures are quite a contrast.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Harry is keeping an eye on your lawn mower from somewhere up there.


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