Tooth and Claw a sheddies tale

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Sheddie Shedonist has emailed me this great little piece about becoming a sheddie after his retirement.

shedonister

After yonks of retirement and planning to move my indoor study away from the in-house hullabaloo, I recently completed the insulation and computer wiring of my garden’s 8x8ft corner of paradise and moved in. That William Wallace knew a thing or two… ‘Freedom!’

My shed sits by the garden wall, not twelve paces from the kitchen door. Time it right and I can get there unseen, make a two-pint jug of tea and be back ‘in stir’ like a thief in the night.

Through one window of my new home, I can see the sweet Severn rivering its course to the sea. Digitally remastered copies of old movies like Brief Encounter, A Matter of Life and Death and Went The Day Well? can be dusted off and re-run. Philosophic rants and rambles and Letters To The Editor can be quietly composed; single issue campaigns designed to annoy the local council can be conceived – all of these not necessarily to be read or carried out by anyone but me. To paraphrase (or parody?) Rupert Brooke, it could even be ‘some corner shed in a foreign field,’ perhaps a space to think, where ‘this heart, all evil shed away…’ could ‘pulse in the eternal mind…’ Who knows? Inky sketches, That Novel What I Never Wrote, flowery poetry… Splendour, Splendour, Everywhere….

After the house’s constantly clattering door-knocker, the twittering of Radio 2 and persistent hell’s-bells of phone calls, I thought The Shed might prove to be a cell of contemplation, a library/office/study/bothy where long-unread books could be pored over in luxurious silence to a bucolic backdrop of grass growing, buds budding and furry, feathery creatures doing whatever they do do.

Not on your noisome Nelly.

Shedonists, beware! Nobody warns you, after you have decided to jump residence for the great outdoors, of just how bloody noisy – AND bloody AND noisy – it is out there in your garden.

Nature outside those safe, brick-built cavity walls of home is no place for children, small household animals, genteel folk or anyone of a sensitive nature, .

I hadn’t been in my new wooden-clad nest for more than 10 minutes before I watched, in horror, as a squirrel which had been entertaining us through the snowy weeks of winter, playfully pinching bird nuts from the table outside our living room window, had its head ripped off by a buzzard.

I was still in a state of shock when two young cock Robins drew blood, a neighbour’s cat pawed our favourite blackbird to death and a squadron of Wood Pigeon Lancasters used the shed roof as a landing strip before marching around for ten minutes in hobnails. How much DO those things weigh? Plus, a family of magpies ganged up like yelling yobs on the small birds we encourage and a thrush is beating seven slimy bells out of a snail shell on the tiles outside. Every morning, on my short hike to Paradise, there seems to be a new cadaver on the lawn, half-eaten by the animal equivalent of Freddy Krueger. Funnily enough, there’s an Elm Street not far away…

Inside the cavity-walled house, you’re cushioned from all that mayhem outside. In the haven I now call home, every howl and screech seems to echo like a fart in church. At night, it’s even worse. Magnified by the darkness, your imagination converts every cackle, wail and painful mewk into murder most foul, red in tooth and claw. Just the other midnight, I was draining the dregs of a rough Rioja and idling through Gordon Thorburn’s Men And Sheds when sinister scratching began at the base of my hovel and began to play around the outside wall.

Mouse? Mole? Rat? Mink? Badger? Freddy? Nervously, I looked out with a torch – as a thorn branch ran up and down the wall in a light breeze. I’ve never been a nervy person, but suddenly my outstanding example of effortless garden cool in the post-industrial semi-rural environment is taking on the mantle of Sleepy Hollow.

Previously, I’d thought the odd overnighter in the shed might be a way of recapturing youthful memories of good times camping (under canvas!) when adulthood was a long march away and night demons had still to visit. A Primus Stove perhaps, or a reason to use the rusty barbecue for bacon and eggs at dawn. Ha!

Today, I went out and bought a burglar alarm and a strong indoor padlock.

And could you recommend any good sound-proofing?

Yours nervously.
Shedonist

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  • Gordon Thorburn

    A Google Alert alerted me to your rioja-fuelled nightmares. Glad to see you use soothing M&S to calm the nerves that make you cough. You really must read another book of mine, Cassius, about a police dog with huge teeth. Best wishes.

    • Shedonist

      Howdo Gordon! Thanks for the pleasure – a REAL M&S pleasure – over the years. I was given the book just after retirement and, wandering lonely as a wossname in a new world of freedom, it inspired me to emulate – if never to match – the heroes between the covers. Cassius is odered for the 'must read' list and good luck with the latest Travelling Art: Gypsy Caravans and Canal Barges.