More than a shed.

You see my shed.

You open its door, what do you see inside?  You see a collection of hand tools, old and new.  Assorted power tools.  Offcuts of timber stacked in a box.  Strange pieces of wood, partially carved in semi spoon-like shapes.  Wood shavings, chippings and sawdust.  Shelves packed with boxes, tins and jars.  You notice smells, possibly unfamiliar.  Pieces of what look like bone on the bench.

What do I see?

I see history.

I see people, places and events.

I see my fathers chisels, remembering them new, being taken out of their box.  Watching him attempt to make a mortice and tenon joint, following the instructions in his Readers Digest Complete Book of DIY.  I say attempt.  Dad was not a natural when it came to crafts.  I see his soft, office workers hands; always clean and neatly manicured. He tried his best. I may have inherited many of his traits, clean hands for example, but my creative streak is from my mother.

I hear strange words coming from the shed and him complaining that the wood is of poor quality, the light is wrong, the instructions unclear.  He has a cigarette.

By contrast I see the brace and bit drill, held in my granddad Morris’s old, sinewy, artisans hands.  Hands that had made objects of wonder.  Hands that had pulled a trigger.  Hands that had cradled fallen comrades in the mud of the Somme.  Hands that had held his children and grandchildren.  The left hand that clipped me round the back of the head when I was disrespectful; once was enough. Fighters hands.

I see his brothers tenon saw and wonder, what did he make with it?  A set square that may have been his fathers, still my favourite.

Tools from my workshop in Mold, memories of furniture and horsehair.  Leather working tools from my time at Sky Balloons, I wonder if any of the baskets are still flying?

Offcuts of timber, I can probably tell you were they came from, each and every last bit.  I have a sad talent for remembering trivia like that.

Ongoing spoon-carving projects; a piece of Sycamore collected on the eve of Katy and Aleds wedding from the woods in Happy Valley. Applewood from the tree in Sally’s parents garden.  Hawthorn from Maes Findeg.

Pieces of bleached beef bone, ready for my foray back into the world of bone carving, using tools bought in Whitianga on my round the world jaunt.

A trunk from a Magnolia tree carved with the face of a Green Man, courtesy of Amy and Dave; finally finished after three years.  Welcome to Louth, Jack the Green.

The lamp I use is from the garage workshop belonging to the long gone family firm, S & R Smyth. I can recall Frank Crowther using it to shine light on his bench; he was a motor engineer of the old school.  Tuned engines by ear.  Could work miracles with metal.

That smell? Linseed oil. The smell that reminds me of granddad Morris he was a plumber/glazier and used to make his own putty; as a child I thought the smell was his soap as that’s what he always smelled of.

You see a shed.  I see much more.

More than a shed.


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