He may look as though he’s going to a fancy dress party as a lumberjack, but that man in the safety helmet, thick goggles, ear defenders, and gauntlets of the calibre usually worn by falconers, means business. Actually, it’s The Boss. And he looks pretty scary carrying his new chainsaw. I wouldn’t want to tell him that I’d scorched the collar of his favourite shirt with the iron . . .
Underneath all that mean-looking safety gear, he’s actually beaming, because if ever there was a tool to make a man feel super-macho, it’s a chainsaw. The noise, the speed, the power . . . it’s the perfect package. Unless, of course, the damned thing won’t start . . .
Like lawnmowers, chainsaws can be annoyingly temperamental. As The Boss found out when he first hired one to tackle a few jobs around the land. The demonstration at the local hire shop made operating the chainsaw look easy enough, but when the eager hirer arrived home, the machine refused to start. Totally. Mind you, its condition suggested that it had probably already cleared one South American rain forest and – like lots of South American people – had moved to Mallorca in the hope of an easier life.
Next step was to buy a chainsaw of his own, and the island’s answer to B&Q just happened to have a special offer on chainsaws. So special, in fact, that alarm bells should have rung. Like its hired predecessor, it refused to start when we got it home. The Boss, by now in something of a bad mood, drove all the way back to Palma (an hour’s journey), where it obligingly roared into life for one of the store assistants, terrifying two elderly Spanish women who were browsing nearby.
Back at the finca, the chainsaw had clearly decided it was probably time to stop messing around and do a bit of work. Dead branches were sliced off almond trees and, a few hours later, there was a pile of neatly cut logs left to season in the sunshine. Sadly, that was the last day the thing ever worked. The store sent us to the local approved service agent (the fault was not apparently covered by the warranty), who declared it “beyond economical repair”. A strongly worded letter was written to the manufacturer’s chief executive, who – being Italian and probably unable to read English – probably balled it up and threw it into the bin.
It would be some time before anyone mentioned chainsaws again in our house . . .