Meon Val­ley Man

Hampshire Life - - Inside -

Chris says good­bye to an old friend

‘These are spare lengths of tim­ber and off-cuts, along with sur­plus sec­tions of skirt­ing board and ar­chi­trave.

They are un­likely ever to be used. But no man will ad­mit this to him­self’ Chris’ man cave has had an up­grade, so this

month he says good­bye to an old friend

Ihave a new trend in home de­sign to re­port. This col­umn isn’t usu­ally the place in Hamp­shire Life where pen­dant lights and fea­ture walls of teal or ochre are dis­cussed. But there has been an epoch-mak­ing de­vel­op­ment at van Schaick Tow­ers. We have gone shed­less.

Our shed­less­ness is re­ally to do with clean lines. Since we fin­ished an ex­ten­sion, we’ve been tidy­ing up a tatty patch at the back of the house. At the same time, the garage and man-cave cre­ated by the ex­ten­sion have pro­vided a new home for my clut­ter. There’s no longer a rai­son d’etre for the trusty pent shed.

This may well be seen in some quar­ters as a be­trayal. I was, af­ter all, the mov­ing spirit be­hind

BBC Ra­dio So­lent’s Shed of the Year com­pe­ti­tion when I was the sta­tion’s Man­ag­ing Edi­tor back in the 1990s. I ap­pre­ci­ate that ev­ery­one needs some per­sonal space to keep their stuff and es­cape the hurly burly. The shed is of­ten that place. But now the new garage is my do­main.

The change has meant that parts of sev­eral week­ends have been de­voted to de­cant­ing from re­dun­dant shed to new garage stuff that should have been thrown away years ago.

A cru­cial cat­e­gory is the set of sa­cred relics known as Men’s Bit of Wood. These are spare lengths of tim­ber and off-cuts, along with sur­plus sec­tions of skirt­ing board and ar­chi­trave. They are un­likely ever to be used. But no man will ad­mit this to him­self. He is not pre­pared to con­sider a dystopian fu­ture in which he is forced to go to B&Q and pay £2.47 for a small bit of wood he’d had in the garage for 20 years.

Also fea­tur­ing strongly in the de­cant has been a mould to make pa­per bri­quettes for the stove from old news­pa­pers. It was a Christ­mas gift from the kids about 15 years ago. I had a few tries mash­ing up old news­pa­pers with wa­ter to make the bri­quettes. But their per­for­mance in the stove was a bit of a dis­ap­point­ment and I’ve not used the mould since. But throw it away? Sacre bleu!

What has been dis­carded is the shed it­self. I filled up the car with old shed pan­els and took them to Water­looville tip. The place has the air of calm and cour­te­ous ef­fi­ciency one finds in the bet­ter run five-star ho­tels. No sooner had I got out of the car than a mem­ber of staff in or­ange hi-vis ap­peared at the tail­gate. In the Ber­tie Wooster nov­els, P.G. Wode­house of­ten de­scribes Ber­tie’s valet Jeeves as shim­mer­ing into the room. That’s just what Mr. Or­ange Hi-Vis did as he ma­te­ri­al­ized noise­lessly at my el­bow. He helped me un­load swiftly and safely with the air of a well-trained gen­tle­man’s gen­tle­man.

They say peo­ple in the coun­try never throw any­thing away. But if a chap is ever go­ing to break the habit, a tip like Water­looville’s, with its hi-vis take on Jeeves, is surely the place to fi­nally let go.

@hamp­shire­life

(us­ing #MeonMan)

ABOVE: A man isn’t a man with­out his ‘Bits of Wood’

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