Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Someone I know has just written

a piece about the "economics" of sheds. I have not read it, indeed I do not think it has been published yet. However I immediately thought of a particular book and a particular shed.
The book is Mark Thomson's "Blokes and Sheds". If you need to know about the importance of sheds to the male psyche then this is a must read book - especially for Australians. It explains the absolute necessity of owning a shed if you are a male. It explains what is kept in them - everything from the essential household hammer to the even more essential bar size (or bigger) 'fridge and every conceivable object inbetween. It explains the solitariness to be found in sheds and the mateship.
The sheds themselves vary from four walls and a roof which barely stand upright to sturdy, insulated beauties that are lovingly painted inside and out by their owners. My late acquaintance Jens owned one which took up most of the backyard. I do not know how (or if) he got planning permission. He used to hold political meetings in it - Labor Party one night, Monarchist another and Independent another. Jens was a political junkie and his shed was as essential to life as the next bottle of home-brew - also kept in the shed.
I have seen many other sheds. They have varied from sterile neatness to total chaos. Those of sterile neatness have also proved to be of little use, their owners tend to turn to the owners of total chaos for help.
My father owns a shed. It is sometimes referred to as "the chapel" - the last priest but one at the Anglican church he attends actually referred to it as such. He understood the importance of a shed. It was his eventual aim to own one in retirement.
My father's shed is one of those which should be labelled "total chaos". He will tell you otherwise. He says he knows where things are. Perhaps he does. Perhaps it is merely chaos, rather than total chaos. He has more timber out there than he could use in a lifetime - even if he started out again at 17 rather than 87. Much of it has been given to him or rescued over the years. He has tools, power tools, machinery, screws, nails, 'biscuits' (not edible), clamps, glue, paint and sandpaper in every possible grade - or so it seems.
When our new oven had to be fitted into the available space the electrician was able to find all the necessary tools in the shed. He likes my father's shed almost as much as my father does and as much as many other people do. They come with chairs and tables and other whatnots, with conjuring apparatus and children's toys and more whatnots - all in need of repair. They watch my father saw and buzz and sand and joint and glue their precious belongings back together again.
I am not sure about the 'economics' of sheds. I do not think an economist could justify shed ownership in monetary terms. That however would not seem to matter. A shed can be everything else - including the capacity to create and mend, an aid to mental health, companionship and solitude, and a sense of being needed. As such, sheds come cheaply.


Tony said...

A shed? I'm not sure...
A study? Definitely.

I've just finished reading Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own', and I think it all boils down to a human need for a private space in order to get things done, whether that involves tweaking the V8 or creating fiction.

Now keeping the sound of screaming babies out, that's another story...

P.S. I got a postal vote flyer the other day. My wife was tempted to use it until I saw the Liberal Party web-site at the bottom of the back page :)

catdownunder said...

Ah well Tony at least it had Liberal at the bottom of the page. The ALP one I got did not have any party at the bottom of the page but (of course) had to be returned to the ALP.
I am waiting to find out who all the candidates are in this electorate - might be forced to do an informal vote yet.

catdownunder said...

Oh, and just by the way STUDY = SHED I think!

Rachel Fenton said...

I love sheds, alas I loathe spiders. Does anyone know a way to prevent spider inhabitation of sheds?

"The chapel" - I like that.

Linda Strachan said...

I love my shed and wouldn't be without it.
I called it 'Tuscany' so when I go there to write I can imagine I am far away from the cool winds of the east coast of Scotland.
It is filled with lots of things my husband wouldn't want in the house, personal things including my collection of tiny gargoyles!
My refuge, my solitude and my writing space - who says it has to be blokes and sheds??

You can see a picture of the inside of my shed on the 'about me' page of my website.

catdownunder said...

Oh I have seen it Linda - and I am more than a tad jealous!

Frances said...

Who says that it has to be men and sheds, Linda Strachan?
The misogynistic Oz culture, that's who.
Of course everyone needs some small space free from duties, demands, questionings, obligations.

But, for women to actually want or deserve this is still not accepted here in Oz- hence the "men's shed" movement.
Cooking sponges and scones, and nurturing others is supposed to be all that a real woman needs.