I would love my garden shed to be a den: a carpeted hideaway with a heater, a kettle and a TV, somewhere to retreat from the domestic hurly burly with a cold-box full of beer, a family bag of dry roasted something-or-other and a newspaper to cover my eyes; instead it is a fust-lined junkyard: repository for all garden and outdoor detritus. It contains, in addition to a plethora of gardening tools and associated gee gaws, numerous terracotta something-or-others, a number of non-functional solar this-and-that’s, various step ladders, a gazebo (still in box), a sand pit, sand (some of it still in the bag), a cricket bat (2 stumps, punctured ball), several warped tennis rackets, a bucketful of variously sized footballs in assorted stages of deflation, a motley selection of bent and rusting car-boot sale golf clubs and a metal boules set which requires two grown men to lift it. On a good day you can open the door without something falling on your head.
In one corner there is an old hi-fi cabinet filled with various bottles and pots which I dug up (forty five years ago, when I could still be bothered) from a Victorian dump on the fringes of a local golf course (from which I was regularly chased by an unhinged-looking man in pastel coloured chinos, carrying a fully-loaded mache niblick). The last time I ventured into the shed, to extract the lawnmower, I noticed that said cabinet had tilted at an alarming angle and all that surrounded it had, like the American administration, slumped to the right. The old shed floor was clearly sagging. I dragged out what I could to investigate and, lo and behold, I discovered that the shed floor was not sagging. In fact, the shed floor simply was not. Where it formerly was, lay a thick layer of rotted pulp and snail shells that reminded me, for some reason, of garden-party couscous – all hope of hideaway den decayed and crumbled before my eyes.
A new shed is out of the question at the moment – neither the will nor the funds are available – so remedial action was called for.
I planned the project meticulously: I bought wood, some of which might prove useful, and retrieved a bucket of nails from the back of the garage: the circular saw was readied and ‘999’ was added to speed-dial. I had a clear idea in my head of what I hoped to achieve, although no firm idea of how to achieve it nor, as it turns out, how to fit it in with everything that surrounds it. (A sensation I am familiar with every time I decide to trim my beard into ‘some kind of a shape’ and end up shaving it all down to stubble in fear of looking like Noel Edmonds.) All was set.
I checked the weather forecast on the evening before I was due to begin. All was fine. I checked again in the morning. All remained fine. I emptied the shed’s contents out onto the lawn under lowering skies and commenced the ‘reloading’ almost immediately under torrential rain. This became the pattern for the day. I managed to ram a few pieces atop the already teetering piles of junk in the garage and a few more into the greenhouse; the garden tools remained outside because my extremely remedial chemistry knowledge informs me that, by and large, they cannot possibly get more rusty, but most of the ex-contents – the electricals, the padded furniture, the parasols, the gazebos, the box of assorted wires (Oh, come on, who doesn’t have a boxful of neatly clipped-off cables in their shed?) – all had to be taken in and out (in and out, in and out) with the regularity of the tides on a planet with multiple moons. I was, though, by now fully committed and, like all faithful DIYers, once I have unsheathed the circular saw, I cannot return it to its box until I have drawn blood, so I persevered and within a mere twelve rain interrupted hours, the shed had a new floor, which, although not in the strictest of senses, part of it, was most definitely within it.
And now, the shed is dry. It is solid(ish) and once again stacked high with junk.
Tidying the garden afterwards was a job of a meagre few hours, and consisted largely of bunging everything that I couldn’t get back into the shed into the garage until such time as I can be bothered to hire a skip. Like some kind of reverse Tardis, the empty shed appeared cavernous, but would only accommodate a third of what it had previously crammed within its sagging walls – stacked in with a haphazard synchronicity that ensured that whatever I wanted, it was always at the bottom. The ex-floor is too damp to burn and, unless the mice have taken up darts, full of woodworm, so it has to go in the bin. The rest of the shed appears unaffected – a testament to all the green goo I plaster on it every year – and will therefore, I hope, remain standing for a year or two more yet. At least until I can get the carpet and the telly moved in…