18. The Shed…

 

27th March 2008. It is the early evening of this day, which is a Thursday. I am quite tired, and the big toe on my left foot is aching slightly – but nothing to bother about. What has happened? Well, I finally cleared The Shed. You know, the little shed in the corner of your garden? The one that, when you open the door, reveals a depressing chaos of jumbled things that have been put in there over the years because they might come in handy? Old half-empty paint tins, the car cassette player you took out of the old car when you scrapped it, that sort of thing. If you haven’t got a Shed like that, then you are very lucky! But also, why should I make a simple little thing like ‘clearing The Shed’ the subject of a web page? This sort of shed clearance must happen all the time. Well, I’m writing this web page simply because I am very pleased indeed about doing it! Half the battle, of course, is to galvanise yourself into starting it. As soon as all the junk is littered about, you simply have to carry on with it, don’t you, otherwise the Poise & Equipoise of everything will be endangered. “I’ve started, so I’ll finish…” to quote Magnus Magnusson * though in a rather different sense in which he made that phrase famous. Anyhow, it all began like this…

 

 

Here you see the interior of a little ‘sun-room’ attached to back of my new house. (Well, it was built in 1930 actually.) But now that at last the weather is bucking up a little – it’s been atrocious for the last 3 weeks – the expected ‘Spring Cleaning’ thing has started. It’s quite nice to have breakfast in there, and so all the garden tools & stuff that have lived in there willy-nilly over the Winter have got to go somewhere else. The Garden Shed is the obvious place.

 

 

There it is: balancing a little precariously on its underlying timbers. It actually has a net curtain in the window, which is rather nice. But it’s a mess inside. I think, in fact I know, that the couple who lived in house before me, were old; and indeed, the elderly lady passed away, which is why the house came on the market. I don’t know about her husband. It’s a nice little house, and has taken to me very well I think; and I respect the people who lived in it before. But still: The Shed must be cleared… 

 

 

This is a view of some of it. It is all like this, and a shelf unit has fallen over, scattering all the tins, jars, containers & other things all over the floor. So you can’t actually go inside because the floor is full of stuff. We must simply work away at it bit by bit. It may well be that there are some things in there that are useful and can be retained.

 

 

So far so good. We have got about half the stuff out now. Incidentally, that sheet of corrugated plastic: that wasn’t in there when I moved in last September. I bought that about a fortnight ago, in a misguided attempt to build a small shelter for 2 bicycles, which had also over-wintered in the sun-room. I screwed it to the wall of the house with wooden battens mounted on hinges. I had to buy a hammer-drill to make the holes in the brick-work for the hinges; it was only £60 – but then we all need a hammer-drill anyway - and the plastic sheet and the wood and the nuts & bolts & washers cost about £30. (I already had the hinges.) The big white bundle of polythene (£2.75) in front of the plastic sheet was supposed to hang down in front of the bicycles to stop the rain lashing against them from the sides. In fact, after spending the best part of a day on this exercise, it suddenly dawned on me that you might be able to buy plastic ‘bicycle covers’ to drape over the bikes. This indeed proved to be the case, so the bikes are now secure from the elements under exactly such covers, which cost £9 each – I thought they were expensive at that, since they are just big plastic bags! Still, the corrugated plastic sheet you see here surely has a great future as the top of a propagating frame? And the hammer drill is bound to come in handy time & time again!  <8^)

 

 

The stuff is now all out. It doesn’t look as big spread out like this as it did when it was all inside The Shed! It was during this time that the car battery fell on my foot. There were actually two car batteries in the shed, and even two half-full bags of cement that had solidified of their own accord, rather than just one as one might have expected. One of the car batteries was a large ‘heavy-duty’ type, but it had a built-in handle, so that made it easier to carry. Unfortunately, just as I was carrying it out of The Shed, the handle broke, and it fell. I think I was quite lucky, as it didn’t land fair & square on my foot. Probably one side of it hit the ground, breaking its fall, and only then did it fall flat, on my foot. The big toe of my left foot is still aching, but less than before, now I think of it.

 

 

Excellent! The Shed is empty – apart from some bits of wood that might come in handy, plus the plastic sheet, and the string – of which more anon. By the way, we did not go at this job ‘hammer and tongs’; no. We would work for say 10 minutes, then go & make a cup of tea & sit down, surveying what we had done, with some satisfaction, but also with some misgiving at what was still to come. After 5 minutes or so we would begin again.

 

 

The result of all this carefully-planned effort, was a complex row of stuff stretching down to the street. However, all the paint cans were collected together so that they could be dealt with in case of problems at the recycling centre. What more can one say? By now it was lunch-time, so we had three quarters of an hour off. It might not have been that long, as we began to ‘stiffen up’, and the idea of leaving all this stuff for our neighbours to see when they came home was not a good one.

 

 

I forgot to say that we swept the cobwebs off the ceiling & walls of The Shed, but it was not until later that we noticed a large number of nails sticking down through the wooden ceiling to a length of at least one inch (2.54cm). Fortunately, I am only 5’ 7” tall, so was unlikely to incise the top of my head by simply walking about inside. On the other hand, if I had chosen to celebrate the clearing of The Shed by jumping up and down in an impromptu ‘Dance Of Joy’ (which on other occasions I have been known to do), I might, quite possibly, not be sitting here now writing this drivel but in Intensive Care or even possibly dead, having punctured my skull with a rusty nail. Don’t really bear thinking about, do it?

 

 

There remains little to be said: it did all go in the car – just! A fairly large population of woodlice went along too. They’re not too bad really: as far as I know, woodlice evolved so long ago & have probably remained unchanged for so long that they are no danger to the health of Homo sapiens? Much like silverfish – they lived in my kitchen in the old house – but are really ancient, and probably don’t carry diseases deleterious to man. Of course, I could be wrong…

 

 

This is the queue of cars waiting to get into the Recycling Centre. I had quite forgotten that this is Easter Holiday week, so many people were taking stuff to get rid of. Normally there’s not a queue on weekdays. When clearing my old house, I learned that very quickly! One time, I took a car-load of junk on Saturday afternoon, and had to queue for 45 minutes to get into the place…

 

 

Back home again, all accomplished! Well, one old screwdriver had lodged itself out of sight – that’s its wooden handle you can see there. I don’t mind admitting we were extremely tired, the whole exercise having occupied us from about 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but a cup of coffee and a nice hot bath soon set us up again. There is even more satisfaction because Clearing The Shed was by far the largest task that remained to us after moving house. Therefore, other tasks which remain – and there a number of these – are all less than this one. So we shall be able to tackle those with the cheery assurance that the worst is behind us!

 

 

* Magnus Magnusson is probably best known as the host of ‘Mastermind’, the television general (and specialist) knowledge quiz game. You can read more about it here: http://www.quizplayers.com/w/QP:Mastermind - but the salient thing was, at the end of the 2-minute intensive question period, if Magnus had just begun a question when the time signal sounded,  he would quickly say: ‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish.’, and that question was thus valid for the contestant. It became a catch-phrase, of course.

 

 

Page written 27th March 2008.