Friday, June 10, 2005

Shed: No-shed woe


A story that is not about sheds, at all.

Nobody, but nobody wass as accident-prone as Shed. Shed was tall, ginger, cocky, and a regular at the Royal Berkshire Hospital out-patients department, usually having a plaster-cast removed. Shed had a rather large collection of antique weapons on his bedroom wall, and he’d hardly been hideously maimed by any of them, at all. And all this despite his being ginger.

One thing you really should know about Shed. He didn’t have a shed in his garden. Oh no, it was a workshop, where he made guns. Guns of wood, which we would take up the woods and run about shouting “Ner-ner-ner-ner-ner!!!” like a bunch of demented Private Pikes.

I suppose it was better than sitting at home trading pornographic magazines, of which he was the undisputed king. He also introduced me to the frightening delights of the pre-fame Human League, so I’ll not hear a word against him.

In summary: Shed = aces.

During the summer holidays, you get used to your mates disappearing for a couple of weeks at a time as they go on family holidays. Shed disappeared at the end of July one year, and come the beginning of September, he still hadn’t returned. It’s little things like that which get noticed by observant kids such as myself. After all, I’d only been on a week’s camp with the Space Cadets, followed by two weeks away with the parental units which segued into another week of “Thank fuck he’s gone” palming-off to the grandparents in deepest Essex, so I had my finger right on the local pulse.

Shed, it turned out, was missing in action.

It had turned out that one the second day of his family holiday, somewhere in the South West of England, the Shed family had gone to the beach. There had been the usual late teen high-jinx in the sun, and quite possibly a nice picnic.

Shed, clad only in a tiny pair of Speedo trunks went swimming, and in a doomed attempt to prove his manly prowess to watching females, he went diving off some rocks.

The tide went out.

“Crunch”, he went as his head connected with densely compacted sand.

“Ouch,” he said, closely followed by “my head’s on at a funny angle”, and “I’m having difficulty standing up.”

He broke his neck, and spent the rest of the summer wearing a rather manly neck-brace.

Shed survived this ordeal, but it turned out it was out of the frying pan and back into the red hot wok of certain death.

One supposes, in retrospect and with his reputation, it was a mistake of his dad to allow him to drive the family car. In fact, I would go as far as saying that even allowing him to take driving lessons was a huge familial howler. It could only end in woe.

And woe indeed.

“Wanna come for a drive?” he said, screeching up to our house in his old man’s brand new Volkswagen Jetta. His pride and joy no less.

“No, sorry mate, got college work to catch up on.”

“I know of this great country pub…”

“I’ll get me coat.”

We never reached the pub, and I am prepared to believe that it never existed at all. Instead, careering down some narrow country lane, we met another bunch of middle class youths coming the other way in their dad’s car. It was almost as if we had met our own mirror image. In fact, the lad in the back seat was wearing a combat jacket and appeared to be taking notes for some future internet-based tales-of-woe project.


“My car!” whimpered Mr Shed, as the AA delivered the wreckage to his front door, managing to fit most of it through the letter box, “My car!”

“Don’t worry, Dad,” said Shed, "Look – I’ve got his insurance details".

“Son – who the hell is Mr Michael Mouse?”


"And call me a man of the world, but I'm absolutely certain there's no place round here called 'Bollockstoya'."

Double Ah.

Post script: Fortune smiles on idiots. One of Shed’s rear seat passengers had the presence of mind to find and trouser Mr Mouse’s severed number plate from the gutter and present it to a nice police officer. Result: large fine for leaving the scene of an accident, a relieved Mr Shed who kept his no claims bonus, Shed Jr banned from using the family motor for the rest of his natural.

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