Last weekend I bought an expensive pair of pruning shears. They have aluminium handles that feel good to hold. I used them to prune the hydrangeas. Innumerable stalks, each needing to be cut back to the lowest green bud. My neighbour suggested that I cut lower, but it seemed sensible to adhere to the horticultural rule. The pruning shears are on the table like all manner of other things. The long black beak is clamped shut by a small black safety catch. The blades open and shut on an orange axle. An accordion style strip of wound metal acts as a spring to provide an appealing sense of resistance when the handles are squeezed. I cannot resist picking up the shears and releasing the catch. I squeeze the handles a number of times and observe how the blades overlap. Then I lock the shears and place them on a red book covered in white names. The handles jut out over some envelopes. The metal is smooth, but brushed in places.

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