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Peter Pan Lyric Theatre

Shedload of old memories

By Squinter

THE garden shed is not long for this world. The plastic windows have slipped from their weather-warped frames and the wind and the rain whip in through the unguarded six inches or so. Not that that’s the main means of ingress for the elements – the felt on the roof is slowly disintegrating and the boards underneath are gappy and sagging.

As Squinter stood in the garden and glumly contemplated forking out for a replacement, he recalled with rather mixed feelings the first garden shed he ever bought. The positive memory is that it was as cheap as chips. Squinter found it in the ‘For Sale’ section of the Andersons- town News not long after he moved into his first house in Riverdale. £50, if memory serves, and “as good as new”. Squinter press-ganged his van-driving brother into a trip to Poleglass to examine the goods and, right enough, the shed was in fine fettle – stout and handsome in a fetching shade of Sadolin russet.

Squinter handed over the readies and he and his brother set to work with a couple of claw hammers and in 40 minutes we had the shed in the back of the van in six  sections – floor, roof, four walls. An hour and a half later and Squinter and his brother were standing admiring the shed as it stood in its new home in Squinter’s back garden.

Squinter’s brother waved as he drove off and Squinter went back for a closer look at his new purchase. Inside the shed he mentally assessed what could go where and and as he trod the bare boards with a warm feeling of a job well done and a few quid saved, he saw it. There on the door was a bolt, which of course is what you’d expect to see on the door of a shed – but this was on the inside.

At first Squinter thought the door was on back-to-front, but on closer examination he could see that wasn’t the case and in any case there was a bolt on the outside too. So the former owner of the shed had fitted a bolt so that he or she could be alone and undisturbed inside. Well, Squinter says he or she, but it was almost certainly a he, for garden sheds, like barbecues and remote controls, are entirely male-controlled dominions.

Squinter doesn’t mind admitting that all of a sudden his new shed didn’t seem quite so alluring. In fact, the thing had taken on a distinctly sinister aura. Because, let’s be honest, while there are probably many reasons why a man would want to lock himself into a garden shed – it’s hard to think of a single one that isn’t dodgy. From dissected corpses at the top end of the scale, to a stash of smutty books at the bottom end – and a vast array of other unsavoury possibilities in between – it was clear that Squinter’s shed hadn’t just seen plants being potted in its short life. The knowledge made Squinter decidedly queasy. And so he set to work removing the inside bolt – for some reason donning a pair of gardening gloves to do so. And though the bolt was relatively new and in perfect working order, into the bin it went.

In the fullness of time the interior lock was forgotten about – well, for most of the time – and the shed served Squinter well. But as he stood in the garden at the weekend, he told himself that, whatever happened, the replacement shed would be a new one.

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