It has taken me a day to ‘level a piece of ground measuring twelve foot by ten’. By levelling I mean I have needed to clear all the rubbish, the stinging nettles, the brambles, the weeds, the annoying sticky plant stuff that no matter how much you shake your hand it doesn’t ever fucking shift. The people who owned my house before me were bastards I have decided. Not only did they just leave this part of the garden to rack and ruin, they also dumped all their shite there as well. In the last two hours I have dug up, in order, a paint spray gun, three complete kitchen floor tiles, a BBQ fork, a whole fucking carpet, and the party piece, an ice cream machine. Yep you read that right. An ice cream machine. I have put all this stuff to one side and the garden waste to the other side. I have then crawled around in the mud with a spirit level trying to convince myself that the ground is level. It is nowhere near level its worse than it was before. I place a load of breeze blocks around the side and check those. They are not level either. I give up. I phone Bill. Bill is my brother in law. When it comes to things like sheds, cars, fixing stuff, man things, Bill is a genius. I am the complete opposite.
I hold the phone away from my ear as he laughs down it. He tells me he will be there first on Friday morning to sort it out. He then tells me to get five bags of ‘sharp sand’ (there are different types of sand…Who knew?), a couple of hundred ‘five inch posi drive screws’, some straight ‘4b2 wood’ and some cake. Ok I say. I guarantee I will buy the wrong thing. The signs in B&Q may as well be written in Hebrew as far as I am concerned.
Friday and Bill arrives, he is soon joined by my friend Nick the Chef who is here to help with the heavy lifting, because it turns out the sides, roof and fronts of sheds are actually rather heavy. I found this out on Thursday night, when I thought, I’d try to be helpful and start taking the shed up the back. I got precisely four foot before giving up.
Bill immediately takes charge and tips out all the sand over my lovely clean smooth section of mud. He pushes the sand around with skill of a master craftsperson, he grabs the spirit level and this I’m told is crucial, turns it the right way up and taps it twice. He then grabs one the old dug up floor tiles, smashes it on the floor and liberally sprinkles the pieces around. He then stands back blows his nose, and then says, “Right that’s ready”.
He has been here 12 minutes, I’ve not even opened the cake yet. Like I said, Genius. I ask him – why wasn’t it ready the way I did it. He looks at me like I am simple. “It wasn’t level” he said. “It was five millimetres out on the offside”. Of course it was, damn those 5 millimetres, story of my life. .
We put some breeze blocks down, Bill checks it is still level. It’s still level, then I accidentally move one of the blocks, as I reach for a bit of wood. Bill tuts loudly and moves it back again and rechecks it. We then get the base – one half of it and we lay that down on top of it. Then we put the other half down and Bill produces a drill and fixes the two sides together and then the floorboards. I am absolutely spellbound at the speed of how he does it. Then from nowhere I hear my own voice say “Can I do the next one?” Bill looks at me and says this “Drilling is Lesson Two, Let’s do hammers first”. This makes Nick the Chef spill his coffee whilst laughing.
I am told to use the big rubber mallet to bash the side of the floor until it is ‘flush’. This apparently mean straight. I bash it and the base moves, Bill stops what he is doing and says “The other side”. I go around the other side and bash that. Bill suddenly shouts “Woah!” and its flush. I feel proud of myself.
Then we put the sides on. This takes roughly an hour. My job is ‘holding’ the sides straight. Something I apparently excelled in. Because when the sides are all joined together – its straight – and according to Bill “That’s solid, he ain’t going anywhere”. For FIVE minutes I think Bill is talking about me. As he and Nick tuck into the cake – I am stood there holding the ‘offside’ bit thinking I am doing great helpful things. Nick ruins it by saying “You can let go now, well you could have let go roughly three slices of cake ago.” I hold for a bit longer and get this, I tap the side, place a pencil behind my ear and say “Yup, that’s looks about right” before slowly letting go one hand at a time.
Then we put the roof on. The roof is seriously heavy. It’s like lifting a buffalo above your head. A pregnant buffalo who has eaten nothing but cake for six months. It takes three hours to get the roof on, straight and bolted together. This is according to Bill because the wood has slightly bowed. It definitely isn’t because he put it on the wrong way round.
It’s five pm. We stand back eating cheese on toast, and drinking cloudy builder’s tea and admire our work. Here it is. That is my shed. See that wood underneath the shed. I did that. Just.
Sorry for a moment I forgot this was a music blog – here are three more of the tracks chosen by the wife as part of The Series with No Theme.
Best Friend – Smith Westerns – The last Smith Westerns last album was a triumph and then they split and they have (some of them) since re-emerged as Whitney
The Music Was to Blame – Peace – Peace were for a while the favourite band of Mr T Badger – their debut album was a bit lovely. The second was not quite so great, although if Badger was writing this – he would strongly disagree with me
Change – Zen Mantra – and I have no idea who Zen Mantra are or indeed where I got this track from. Google tells me that they are from New Zealand. And this song is now immediately disqualified from the Three Song Challenge – unless you had already mentioned it.