Midway through my pruning session I realise I am cutting the wisteria up into really neat pieces.
I mean, seriously neat. Each branch is carefully chopped into three and then placed in a garden waste bag. I do the same with the ceanothus until I have filled both my regulation green bags. Then I stand in the bags and squash the branches down to make things even neater. I sweep the pathway and put the leaves on top and rearrange them to make the bags match each other. I spread equal quantities of leaves evenly over the chopped-up branches and stand back to admire my handiwork. These must be the prettiest two bags of garden waste in all of Balham, I think. I swell with pride looking at them. I worry slightly that my tendency for obsessive compulsive disorder is getting out of hand again — like the time I realised I was lining up all the mugs in the dishwasher so that the handles faced outwards at the same angle. But I reckon that when it comes to putting waste out for removal by the council you cannot be too obsessive, or indeed compulsive.
I check the bags again and feel a strange sense of apprehension as I begin to attach my shiny new garden waste removal permits to the handles. I’ve had to jump through a few hoops to get hold of these babies. I had to ring up and register. It is now £25 a year for the privilege of putting a small amount of garden refuse out for collection once every two weeks through the summer months, as the impressively rude girl who sold me the permits over the phone explained. They will not automatically renew, so I will need to re-register every April.