Andy Richardson: Another lawn, another chance to transform into Mr Rotavator

Derrick Evans. Legend. A man who rose to fame by wearing lyrca in the 1990s. At the age of 67, Mr Motivator has been one of the unlikely heroes of lockdown.

Another lawn, another chance to transform into Mr Rotavator
Another lawn, another chance to transform into Mr Rotavator

While six-packing Joe Wicks captured the nation’s imagination (and sold a container loads of books) when he became the UK’s PE teacher, it was Mr Motivator who appealed to those over the age of 12.

For people with bumps in all the wrong places, with memories of GMTV circa 1993-2000 and of a permanently smiling man who performed workout sessions prior to Power Rangers, Mr Motivator was where it’s at.

Long before lockdown, he’d started to make ad-hoc appearances. A friend and I were at a cricket match at Edgbaston – we all hate Warwickshire, but sometimes needs must – when the between-innings entertainment got started.

“Who’s the funny guy in lyrca?” asked my pal. It was none other. Derrick Evans had made it to the ground and was leading fans out of their seats for a bit of cardiovascular. Good old Dec.

Interestingly, Mr Motivator has led a colourful life. Quite apart from becoming a TV star who this year joined BBC TV’s HealthCheck UK Live, he’s been married three times and with his son, James, owns an ecotourism resort as well as a company called PaintSplat, Jamaica’s first paintball operation.

He was also in a relationship with Wolverhampton’s gold-medal winning Olympian Tessa Sanderson. Round, round, get around, he gets around. But I digress.

We are not here to talk about paintballing or marriage, nor indeed to remind ourselves of Derrick’s 2012 music video, In Da House, about which, the least said…

A year ago, I decided to transform the garden. A humble terraced home was in need of a new lawn for a reasonably unusual project, which was this: I decided to turn the back garden into a cricket wicket.

The length of the lawn was just about sufficient to bowl on, I could just about afford to spaff hard-earning wonga on a bowling machine and She Who Must Be Obeyed decided that if it got me out from under her feet then who was she to stop me.

And so began Project New Road, in tribute to the mighty Worcestershire CCC. I think She Who Must Be Obeyed imagined I’d run out of gas or realised the error of my ways before laying bat on ball and she may well have been right.

A year ago, I bought a rotavator, dug up a bumpy old lawn, created an even bumpier new one and waited for the sun to shine.

By March, a new lawn had emerged, laid from seed, the rotavator was back in the shed and the garden looked decidedly green.

I was told that buying a rotavator was one of life’s most pointless purchases. After all, you dig up a lawn or border once, then put it in the shed. It’s not the sort of thing you’re ever likely to do twice, sensible people hire those things in for a few quid a day, get the job done, then return them to the shop. Only idiots think it’s necessary to own one of the bone-shuddering, arm-shaking, leg-quaking, butt-quibbling, noise-making, eye-popping things. So I bought one.

And then lockdown struck.

While many bemoaned business failures, furlough, the end of the world as we knew it and worse, I bought a cricket net and strode manfully to the crease.

Lockdown provided the opportunity to do something reasonably ridiculous and warm summer evenings were spent smashing a ball through the imaginary covers. Bliss. Pick the bones out of that one, Ian Bell.

Lockdown did something else unexpected. Too much time on our hands meant we ventured into the dark world of the internet, more specifically, Rightmove. Deciding to move house in the middle of the worst economic crash for 300 years might not be the most sensible thing to do but who said life was about obeying the rules?

So now we find ourselves somewhere else and the garden has a bumpy old lawn. Guess what. I have a rotavator and a bag of seed.

This weekend, while sensible people will be doing the few things they’re still allowed during Lockdown V2.0, I’ll be firing up the engine and digging it all up. I was thinking of wearing lyrca and having my own T-shirt printed: Mr Rotavator. What would Derrick make of that?

I thought I might start my own internet channel and have episodes like Mr Rotavator Smashes A Perfectly Good Lawn, Mr Rotavator Destroys A Rose Bed, Mr Rotavator Takes Out A Holly Hedge… that sort of thing.

She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn’t seem as keen this time round, can’t imagine why. Perhaps it’s the lyrca and the dayglo headband?

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