A Word In Your Ear - 22 September 2011

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IT is strange that as we get older our ambitions narrow somewhat.

You ask a man in his late 30s, when his chance of a call-up for a trial with Liverpool FC has now gone, he has a wife, 2.4 kids and a mortgage that has no hope of being repayed until he hits retirement, what he really wants, then he may have to think long and hard.

He may make mutterings about finally learning to play that guitar or seeing more of the world, but what he really, really craves is a shed.

Nothing fancy, certainly not like the £500,000 the Dahl family want stumping up to keep dear old Roald’s writing cubbyhole from collapsing, but a simple 6ft by 4ft glorified wendy house.

Sophie Dahl has got it in the neck all week from the vicious Twitterati and national newspaper diarists after suggesting the nation dig deep to help preserve her grandfather’s famous shed.

This magical place is where Fantastic Mr Fox, Danny Champion of the World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, my own favourite, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, were crafted by a literary genius.

Secretly, I’ve always dreamed of a shed where I, too, could give such adventures a go, or am I getting woefully too romantic on the subject?

Do I not, in reality, just want somewhere I can put a couple of grow bags, my favourite armchair and an old fridge, too unfashionable for a gloss finish kitchen, but perfect for housing 48 cans of strong continental lager.

It appears I’m not alone. I stumbled across the following webchat the other day. Don’t ask me how, just the wonders of Google and a question about men and their sheds I suppose.

By the end of it you will be a fully fledged member of Men In Sheds, or just simply scared to go anywhere near the creosoted wood section of B&Q again.

DICK: “Did you get all three at the same time or did you just add a shed when the others got full up?

JEFF: “No, Dick. They are part of a grand plan of shed acquisition.

“Being a gentleman of the same persuasion as yourself, I view shedding as a wholesome leisure activity. Interestingly, contents are attracted to sheds and rapidly fill every little nook, thus one must always be constructing new sheds to stay satisfactorily ahead.

“I even have a shed where I keep the bits and pieces I use to make sheds. Shedding is a very absorbing pastime, falling as it does on the cusp between art and science. One either understands sheds, or one is bereft of shedness.

“Here are some people who I believe have a sheddy feel about them – Reese, John, Fowler, Patience.

“I think Lynch is more of a bedsit person and Muir and Simms seem a bit busy. (It is a time consuming pursuit, shedding.)

“The women are out. Sheds are a very blokey thing.

“Doug is a puzzle. Could a good size cardboard box be considered a small shed?”

I told you men can be obsessive about their sheds.

Oh and a message for Jeff if he is reading this (no doubt via wi-fi in his shed). Doug really isn’t “a puzzle”, he is just homeless.