Meon Valley Man
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.
ABOVE: A man isn’t a man without his ‘Bits of Wood’