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Rab feels master of the domain of his shed but how long before the tables are turned?

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At last, I’ve brought order to my shed. A shed should be a place where a man feels master of his domain. But, for too long now, my shed has been the master of me.

It hides things. It tangles up wires from different equipment. It leaves tins of paint open on the floor so that I step into them and ruin my socks. All this in return for the love that I lavish upon it. And when I say love I mean, of course, paint. And wood preservative. And roof lining.

If you’ve a shed about your person, you’ll know that they’ve a deep instinct for untidiness. Any order you bring to them is soon undone.

In my shed, there be: three lawnmowers; tins of varnish, wood preservative and sealants; hammers, mallets, ropes, drills, saws, nails and screws; ear defenders (even a safety helmet); plant foods, soil enhancers, lawn treatments; secateurs, wire-cutters, small garden tools; a bag of miscellaneous cloths, oily rags and gloves; several canisters of WD40 (natch); a trolley; and a pile of wood waiting to be cut to size to patch up the damp and leaky bits of the walls.

Robert McNeil.

I should say I’ve two additional and very large storage boxes, one containing tool boxes (two of these); shears, strimmers, trimmers and loppers; a rotovator and other soil turners; a pick-axe and some more stray pieces of wood that might “come in handy”, which is an expression we DIY practitioners use for stuff that never comes in handy.

My other large storage box contains spare chairs and other bits of furniture, ready for use should my house suddenly decide to expand.

What a palaver. My first move in tidying the shed was to instal a holder for the long-handled garden implements such as rakes, brushes and longer loppers. That made a right difference.

Then I arranged all the paints, oils and treatments in properly assigned places on the shelves. I pushed the mowers and trolley right to the back and, best of all, cleared everything off the floor. With age comes wisdom – ken? – and I see now why Maw McNeil kept telling us to pick stuff up off the floor when we were bairns.

All my possessions – clothes, CDs, woolly hats, cups, books, wigs, plates and crockery – instinctively dive for the floor. It’s uncanny. Indeed, you can hardly see the floor in the kitchen, mainly because I’ve been using the big space to paint sundry small pieces of furniture in bright, nursery school colours, as is my wont. None of your trendy Scandie whites and greys for me!

The estate agent’s spiel for the big kitchen was that it would be ideal for entertaining, which I’ve taken to mean painting bedside cabinets bright yellow. Sometimes, I remind myself of Stan the repair man in Victoria Wood’s ‘Dinner Ladies’. Asked if he’d never married, he replied: “No, ah like to keep me spanners in the livin’ room.”

What I really need is a workshop, ideally with a summer house attached. I know where this is to go, but have hummed and also hawed on the project for well over a year.

In the meantime, a kind of order has been established in the shed. The main thing now is not to touch anything in it again. Ever.

More in this series:

Spilling the beans on Rab’s latest antics

Rab’s new ‘toy’ comes with all the tools anyone needs but still can’t conquer self-assembly kits

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