Friday, 8 July 2011

The man who lost the plot

I never met him. Whoever he was, he had apparently been using his allotment as a tree-nursery, which broke just about every rule in the book. It took the Council at least 8 years to evict him, or possibly just to wait for him to hang up his tools and retire. On 6th June (always my lucky day) Council workers with strimmers came and took away the worst of the undergrowth (the trees, apparently, were all long gone). Two days later we got the phonecall: the Plot was ours, free for the first year if we were up for all the work involved. We had been on the list for over 2 years: we signed up pronto. It even has a shed.

The first time I looked inside, it was festooned with cobwebs. No-one (at least, no-one with fewer than 6 legs) must have been in there for years. There were three old doors leaned up against one of the walls, and a pile of dust which, on being sneezed at, revealed some paint-tins, a bicycle-chain, a pair of scholls (sadly not my size) and, bizarrely, the mouthpiece of a recorder.

A few days later I returned, armed with a broom. I was met with exactly the same interior design (including the small but sturdy spade I had left there), but with one very unsubtle addition: in the middle of the floor was an empty Rizla-packet torn, shall we say, in that characteristic way. It appeared the shed (along with, so the owners tell me, most of the other sheds nearby) had a bit of a social life of an evening.

I set to clearing away all the cobwebs and dust (and the Rizla packet). I found there was a window (it doesn't let much light in though, being just a foot from the high wall of the garden next door), and cleaned and opened it. By the end of the day it was looking quite presentable in there. As I have continued work on the rest of the Plot, a few things have gradually been moved there: a rake, a pair of gardening gloves I found in the street (which are excellent, and a perfect fit), a carpet-square, a bucket and, in case Nature calls, a loo-roll which I tied through its centre to a beam.

So today, after some heavy rain which eases the work, I returned to the Plot to dig out some bindweed. In the shed, everything was exactly as I'd left it...except that the loo-roll was missing. Including the centre, which must have meant someone cutting or untying the string. Leaning out of the window I could see the said centre on the ground, and the sheets too, looking as if they had been useful for something before being defenestrated. But what?? Who had been crying? Or sneezing? Or getting dirty?

If only sheds could talk.

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