Friday, 29 June 2012

Glove affair

I freely admit it. I am not man enough to garden without gloves. It’s therefore a bit of a mystery to me why my hands manage to get quite so grubby and gnarly – obviously I can wave the wizened things about as a sort of gardener’s badge of honour, but it’s a different matter when the mere sight of them causes passing children to run off in tears and the bloke at the supermarket checkout to recoil in horror on handing over your receipt.

My hands are not the most elegant appendages you’re likely to encounter. Even at the best of times there’s no disguising their form: generously sized square palms with five short, sausagey digits attached at regular intervals. They’re a bit rough – calloused, scratched, in spite of my best efforts usually betraying some earthy signs of the day’s activity – but they’re good, honest hands. Since I left off piloting a desk through the corridors of commerce and opted instead for a hard day’s graft in the open air they also appear to have grown in size, which is alarming to say the least. This hasn’t happened visibly, but recently it’s been the devil’s own job getting my gloves either on or off, which led me to the rash decision one day last week to forgo the hand protection for just half an hour. And in that short time my mitts became veritable pincushions with every bramble and thorn possible finding its way through several layers of flesh. So I finally did the sensible thing and bought the next size of glove up, which do leave a little room at the top of some of the fingers but at least I don’t have to cut them off my hands whenever the phone rings. (The gloves; not my fingers.)

An improvement, then, but still not perfect as somehow I seemed to be making a habit of getting thorns buried in the fabric of the glove itself – impossible to see but not to feel, as they persisted in digging in to the skin.

All of which has led me to these RHS-endorsed Gold Leaf gardening gloves (“for people serious about gardening”, if you please) – so fiendishly expensive that the same pair had better still be going strong when I drop dead, rake in hand, several decades from now. There’s a range of different options: gloves for light pruning, gloves for heavy pruning, gloves for cold weather and for gardening in the wet. The ones I’ve opted for have a reinforced palm and finger tips, a waterproof liner and a thermal layer, and are pretty comfortable. Whether or not they’ll be any good, time will tell – so far they’ve survived a week, and the only slight niggle I have is that the various linings make them a little tricky to get off, but not as much as the clearly-too-small gloves of recent months.

But if they can stop my hands looking and feeling like a pair of peppered hams hanging off the end of my arms, that’ll do for me.