Bricks • Mortar • Imagination • Words

The Texts

Sheds 6 x 8 x 6

Angry at the ***** time computers steal

like Railtrack. Angrier with myself for lack

of knowledge. Molested hard drives. Quirky files

cluttering the registry remind me of Le Carre.

I've no loyalty left to give to MS, Amdhal

or Dell. Encrypted online, I visit Siemens and

Linux like a traitor, hankering for Acorn and Sinclair,

when the smell of English plastic promised much, and delivered.


While technical supports gloat over phone bills I ring my wife

to explain the situation, the lack of emails, the shed

cut off from the outside world like America, a temporary

structure that seemed a good idea at the time but takes

so much technology and resuscitation to keep it going

I'm getting tired of it, feel like knocking it down.

Then I remember the shed in the film of the nuclear test

and worry about flimsiness, lack of protection, armaments.


I watch the shrubs move like dancing women outside

my shed in time to Bach. Through the glass I see

blue *****, a wren, the ducks who spend an hour

on my pond. Gulls laugh on the roof.

In February, beneath the floorboards, I find

a family of hedgehogs blind asleep. I can't resist

disturbing them and seeing if they settle once

again in a cloche of rhubarb, unwilling colonists.


A romantic visitor draws a map showing the way

to the best shed in the world. Here be treasure, he says

from his state of smash. A chest sits within it, containing

nothing. This empty hut could be a Castle Perilous

at the heart of a wild wood, pressed hard on all sides

by tourist attractions, camp sites, and pubs serving bbqs.

I'm planning my trip fearful of a thing part natural, part

manufactured, beyond the ken of naturalist or engineer.


On my way, I meet an English sports teacher,

a shed in the back of his car en route for Burgenstock.

Coals to Newcastle, I say, thinking of chalets

and the sad tune of my mother's Swiss musical box.

In spite of temperatures fifteen degrees below,

he boasts these British planks survive well enough

on mountains in continental Europe, home to

measuring equipment and downhill competition.


Flying home to Gatwick over county boundaries,

over perimeter fences on industrial estates,

seeing sheds, large and small, familiar and painful,

I make a scale model of a new kind of space.

At the threshold of my shed my cat greets me.

Animal bones are scattered round the room. I have

been away too long. It's time for a return.

I find a can of creosote and start to paint.

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