Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Radioactive Boots

I was going to throw them out but at the last minute I thought that they may be useful to do the garden in. Well sometimes, even when there is plenty of mileage in them, a pair of old tennis trainers are just that – old. Out of time.  Unfashionable. My other half even referred to them as ‘Moon Boots.’ Well moon boots were good enough in 1969 when the Eagle landed. So I kept them. To my mind thick, sturdy soles with plenty of tractor tyre-style grip still had some use.
She was out shopping when I decided that I couldn’t put off the moss removing job from the patio any longer. I’d get it done, then I’d win the award of being allowed to sit in front of Soccer Saturday all afternoon. I grabbed a bucket and began to read the instructions on the moss removal product. Dilute with cold water, 1:4. That means chuck a load in the bottom and fill the bucket up, in my book. Harmful to plant and aquatic life it said. Do not drink. I hadn’t intended to drink it but I wondered why those two warnings followed one another. It was unlikely a Triffid would come along and want to de-moss a patio and no matter how intelligent they are, dolphins do not build patios. Perhaps that is a mark of intelligence – not to have a patio.
There were several other alarming warnings and scientific terms such as fungicide and algaecide plastered all over the side of the container.  I felt some trepidation as I began to wonder whether I should bother doing the job at all. Wear protective clothing it said. Like what? A radiation protection suit? Do not breathe in. Did that mean I had to hold my breath throughout the whole operation or did it mean I should be wearing breathing apparatus? I dismissed it all. I’d never get it done if I kept worrying about the warnings. Bit like reading all the side effects you can get from taking a medicinal pill. Once you swallow it you think you have them all. Despite my trepidation I unscrewed the cap and poured a dollop (err…1:4, I think) into the bucket. I topped up the level with cold water and dipped the broom head into the mix. For good measure I tipped a small amount of the liquid onto the patio and began to scrub. A soapy, white film appeared first on the patio surface, followed by a thin, wispy trail of vapour, rising almost imperceptibly. My first thought was that I was glad I hadn’t drunk any of the product and my second was, ‘is this meant to happen.’ I carried on, purely on the basis that it would be impossible for moss to continue to live on the creamy, smoking surface appearing before me. Within ten minutes the whole of my once grey slate patio was a smoldering mess of white paste and pale, cloudy fumes rising into the air. A sickening sensation began to form in my stomach, mostly from the worry that I had somehow started to vaporize my garden but probably stimulated by the bleachy, corrosive fumes that had replaced most of the oxygen available in my immediate vicinity. I decided that enough was enough. As my eyes began to water I accepted that moss could not exist on what had now become a hostile environment to any living organism and I considered the job done. I stepped across the alien landscape that I had inadvertently created towards the hosepipe attached to an outside tap. As I turned the tap fully on to wash away the molten grunge that was creeping across the slabs, I noticed my tennis trainers had begun to glow red around the soles. I hoisted my leg up and back to check the sole properly. Sure enough the underside was a glowing red colour but, with the better view of the whole shoe base, I could see two small yellow spots between the toe and the heel that seemed to be pulsing.  Slightly alarmed at what was happening to my trainers I let go of the hosepipe just as my other half was coming through the back gate laden with shopping. The hose bucked and writhed in a powerful coiling motion across the patio, as the water jet erected it into a hissing, gushing snake-like life form, spurting gallons of water from its nozzle directly at the lady of the house. The first burst caught her round the legs but as the hose bounced upwards she got the full spray directly over her upper body and face. Her screams galvanized me into action. As she dropped her shopping I sprang forward only to find that my enthusiastic reaction had caused me to leap clear over the six foot fence that bordered the garden. I landed some forty metres away on a grass mound at the back of the property. I didn’t have time to be surprised. As I looked round I caught sight of an impromptu wrestling match taking place between the hose pipe and my good lady. The hose pipe seemed to be winning despite profanities coming from my other half that I had not heard since our honeymoon night.  I shot forward to rescue the situation only to find that in an uncontrollable blur of speed I crashed straight through the wooden fence, splintering the panel into matchwood as I came to a skidding halt. Somehow I had covered over forty metres of ground in a split second. I grabbed at the hose pipe directing it away onto the grass and managed to switch off the tap.

I didn’t get to watch Soccer Saturday. It cost me a few hundred quid for a new outfit to replace her soaked one. The patio came up lovely eventually. No more moss. I repaired the fence. I found out that my neighbor had borrowed the bucket and had left a small amount of
Hydrofluoric acid, something he had been using on glass. I discovered that my old trainers contained erradiferticulatesulphate acid as part of the sole. A rare chemical reaction between all substances had clearly taken place. Unofficially I hold a new world record for the forty metres. The trainers still glow. I kept them.