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Honeybun the Stripper

A delectably named woman named Annabel Honeybun was briefly in the news in Britain this week.  Perhaps you missed the story, in which case I have a question to ask: what do you think Ms. Honeybun does for a living?  

I offer only one clue: she is not the heroine in the next James Bond film.

I bet your first thought was unworthy.  I bet you thought she was a stripper. 

Well if you did, you are right, but for the wrong reasons.  What Ms. Honeybun strips off is not her clothes, at least not for the entertainment of gentlemen prepared to pay for the privilege of watching her do so, but leaves; leaves as in the things that grow on trees.

She is paid to does this by the British taxpayer.   Ms. Honeybun was observed this week removing leaves from an avenue of lime trees outside the Palace of Westminster. In the language of arboreal science she was pollarding them.

The question that may now be exercising the more enquiring minds among those taxpayers is why it is necessary to do this – especially as she was photographed doing it in the middle of the season we old-world types over here call autumn and new-world people across the pond call, for a very good reason, the fall.  Call the season what you will, it is the time of year when, by time-honoured custom, the very leaves that Ms. Honeybun is paid to remove, will, if left to their own devices, turn brown or yellow, expire, and descend to the ground without any assistance other than from the wind.

So why does Westminster Council, or whoever, pay Ms. Honeybun to do what nature has been doing each year, without fail, for countless centuries, in fact ever since trees first rose above the primeval swamp from which we all, one way or another, emerged?

To ask the question, as I confess I had to, is to show what little you and I know about the science of preserving trees.  The answer, apparently, is that removing the leaves from a tree before the tree is ready to dispose of them by itself is good for it.  That much we learned from Ms. Honeybun herself this week.  As to whether this is an unassailable scientific fact or one of those unproved old-wives-tales handed down through the ages I am unable to attest. 

Ms. Honeybun was, though, gallantly supported in letters to the quality papers, many of them indignant at the scoffing quality of the coverage of her arboreal ministrations.  “Horticulture,” wrote one correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, “is being portrayed as both unskilled and frivolous …. This is a necessary part of the trees’ maintenance in order to keep their shape and size.  As a professional horticulturist it saddens me to see such a negative response to the craft.”

Well, that tells us where to get off.

Personally, I have no strong views on the matter of assisting trees to shed their leaves.  If pushed for an opinion, it would be that they are best left to get on with it by themselves.

But Ms. Honeybun for one brief moment yesterday provided distraction from the more pressing, indeed depressing, issues of the day, many emanating from the Middle East, many of them evidently insoluble.   

So, please carry on Annabel, and ignore those doubters who would fain consign you to sweeping the leaves from the yard as us poor suburban wretches have spent the last month doing. 

And come to think of it, before poor Annabel is reduced into self-analysis about the purpose of her life, why do the rest of us go to such lengths to put into bags or on bonfires what nature designed as fertiliser?

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