An Englishman’s Home Is His Shed

With its “door-droppingly-ugly” looks your average Englishman’s shed is as downtrodden as a 19th Century Housewife.

We’ve all owned a shed, or know someone who has or who does. A veritable spider’s web of “necessary” vitals, stored in an “out of sight is out of mind” manner, behind its creaking entrance and raspy, rusty, old bolt.

The musty, ageing musk of the goodness knows in our nostrils, as we run the gauntlet of the splinter promised walls.

The mystery to the child who is forced to keep out, and away from the dangers that lie within.

Victorian terracotta plant pots, mysteriously coated in cement-like substance, inherited from Grandad’s own hut hoarding. Garden tools without which we cannot scythe to survive. Three watering cans too many, and the various chemical fertilisers that promised so much on a Garden Centre shelf, but which now have their lids cross-threaded on more tightly than the pursed lips of an accountant with unbalanced books. Labels scattered on the floor, that have worn off the corrosive containers, with abandon. Toxic! Caution! Bees beware! Handle with care, for our modern & better world.

Tobacco tins of nails and screws, labelled in a bygone era, by Dad, to be retained for a DIY day where there’s not quite enough. From Allen keys to garden canes, to twine and the ageing sweet pea seeds. It’s all available if you know where to rummage.

A solitary children’s toy trike, tossed in a downpour, from the pitted patio. Balanced on top of tins of stale paint, with their buckled, rusty, slightly soiled lids. The remnants of yesteryear’s decorating in the dining room. Their spattered rainbows of carefree colours, adorning their once shiny sides.

And once, some year, every once in a while? The tidy, with a view to throwing away the useless, the discarded, the unwanted. But the reality is the precious return of it all – just onto different shelves. A bit neater. For now!

And all this detritus stays put, ripe for the fruits of pilferers viewing through the ill fitting, poly, popped out, far from picture window.

And you’ll find them, from Carlisle to Crawley, and Penzance to Peterlee. Our sheds, with the charm that we cherish.

A Yorkshire Retirement

Now his Doctor back in Leeds, said it’s time to sow the seeds

Of retirement in Scarborough or in Brid

As his pressures were so high, that his doings just might die, if he didn’t lower gently his own lid

With his face that could stop clocks, time on tic, no detox, & his history that’s so second hand

He’d be right by the tee, grow hydrangeas by the sea, and bound to beat his drum in some brass band

Bloodshot eyes like fractured pies, that have blown his big disguise, and are redder than the warnings on his dial

Now the paper boy is late on his fractious final date, has him spitting sputum, mixed with burning bile

When he finally arrives, will be luck if he survives, as his head rammed through the window cannot speak

To tell the boy that he is late, that this is his final fate,

With his ruddy, scalded, bare faced cheek.

©Andy McCormac 2019

Not Fit To Park?

The frozen wide-eyed fixed stare of the “must-park-now-hospital-car-park-automaton”, seeking out the smallest crack for her 4by4 so that she WON’T be late for a blood pressure check, for which she is now fraught and steeply rising by the second!

Her own internal monitors blipping & beeping like the parking sensors she ignores. She sees that she may box her door mirrored ears on another, as (oh Triumph!) she finds a pinched width of tyre-marked tarmac to squeeze into, between a jammed Jeep and the unyielding scratchy hedge.

White knuckles, teeth gritted, numbing fingers gripping steering wheel. Over revved, she is typical of the tight lipped types, frantically searching and barging in the sweary, spitted air, exasperated by aspirations of her dieseled distress.

Fuming!

©Andy McCormac 2019

Anyone for a cuppa?

There’s only two of us living here. My wife & I. Out of those two people, only my wife drinks tea – & not that much of it either, maybe 3-4 cups per day, max. She likes her tea “not much milk please, just a ‘waggle’ of the tea bag” for the perfect infusion of gentle flavour, according to her most delicate palate. Not like “boat varnish” as one is used to up here in the North.

We therefore only need to buy tea bags in small quantities – so that they are always fresh & with the added bonus that not much cupboard space is needed to store them. Or maybe no cupboard space at all, if I can shoehorn a whole box of 80 into the small caddy which some tight tin maker has carelessly created to hold 78.

We’d reached a point today where we’d just got two left, though my wife tells me she has a secret stash of three more in a different caddy (so she never runs out, EVER!)

Walking into the supermarket earlier, I knew exactly what I was looking for. It has to be the right brand (depth of flavour preference) & we need 80 of them – as they have yet to start selling boxes of 78. Today though? They weren’t selling 80 either. Totally out of stock! This is because we live in a seaside town & everybody with a caravan has towed it here this week, & they all need 80 tea bags so they can have their cuppas while they read the paper and do the jigsaws that they could just as easily have done at home.

What to do? Go without? (Unthinkable to a tea drinker. Especially one who only drinks three cups a day!) Use the stash of 3 & go right to the wire on our own availability, coming back tomorrow in the hope that the caravanning communities will be stocked up, & that the people who order stock for the supermarket have actually done that? That they have figured that the tea drinking population of our little town has a multiplier of 10 on it in the Summer, & that stocks should be increased accordingly.

What if they don’t order though? What if they only have one delivery a week? In a nano-second I had quietly undertaken a metamorphosis from man with no tea to manic and frantic panicked tea-buyer! Why? Because they had boxes of TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY!!.

This humongous box hit the bottom of the trolley, with a hefty “thwump” filling quite a big proportion of it. Goodness knows what this was going to do for cupboard space, & as for getting this gargantuan mass in the caddy? “Quart & pint pot” don’t come close!

It had to be done though. At three glorious cups a day we’ve got almost 3 month’s supply – but hey ho, let’s live dangerously!

The checkout process brought further discomfort. It was a self checkout & it was no surprise to me that, on scanning it, my big box became “an unexpected item in the bagging area”. I certainly hadn’t been expecting to buy it on arrival at their premises. The invisible virtual checkout assistant assured me, with her definite diction, that “the assistant is coming”. She should also have said “eventually”.

In the end a young man appeared in supermarket uniform. “Sorry for the delay Mate, we’re UNindated!”

“You’re what?”

“u n i n d a t e d! “. He said it slowly – to make sure I heard him correctly this time.

“We’re unindated – because there’s so many holidaymakers here right now”.

He successfully scanned my tea bag colossus.

“Like tea do you”? He said, marvelling at the size of the box, even though it was his own employer that saw fit to stock it, rather than boxes of 80, or maybe 78.

I’ve brought the giant box home. The caddy is comfortably full with 78, or maybe 80 tea bags. (I used some force). There are still three “emergency” tea bags in the mini stash tin, we can still breathe easily about that! The rest of them won’t really fit in the cupboard yet…

So.

Does anyone fancy a cuppa?

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