He’d done it! Ted (my husband) had finally finished building my writing shed in the back garden! It had *only* taken him the best part of two years but there it was constructed and painted! I had always envisaged a cosy bolthole inspired by a Devon shepherd’s hut (with a log burner and daybed) but then I reminded myself that I wasn’t married to Amazing Spaces George Clarke. So I was grateful for Ted’s simple four sided ‘shed’ construction complete with a rusty window that we’d found in a skip. It was a lucky find because my skip searching or *skip skanking* as I call it was tentative at best. I didn’t dive in head first like Kirsty Allsop with her Kurt Geigers waggling in the air and just the hem of a Reiss coat discearnable amongst the detritus. I would take a furtive glance at the gubbins/tat/crap on the surface and have a *risk assessed rummage* to pick off (using the least amount of digits as possible) anything interesting on the top. If there was something of worth deeper in the mire I might send Ted in (well you don’t have a cat and crap in next door’s garden yourself do you?). My new writing shed also had a proper door! Our neighbours had given us their old wooden front door complete with a letterbox flap and door knocker! Small remittance, in my opinion, for their rutting cat’s usage of our garden as a knocking shop!
Now! I wasn’t going to go all whimsical and sit out there in my shed freezing my extremities off writing on an A4 jotter with a bic biro wrapped in a duvet so I needed power sockets and a kettle. I wanted to be snug in my writing cave, a place where I could sip good coffee and diligently tap away on my laptop. It wasn’t as if I fancied myself as Roald Dahl or Virginia Woolf or any other famous writers-with-writing sheds I just wanted a little place to call my own. Somewhere I wasn’t distracted by festering laundry or Poldark on demand. And so it was that I needed a qualified electrician. ‘Ryan’ the electrician as it goes (recommended by the door/randy cat neightbours) and after a not taking the piss quote we asked him to do the work. I think I knew he was a bit *needy* from the start but didn’t give it much thought such was my excitement at getting wired!
He started texting a lot, not in a creepy stalkery way but in a just plain old annoying way to keep me informed! Of course it wasn’t just a case of running a cable from our house out to the shed, there were all kinds of boring details and guidelines to adhere to. You might want to stick the kettle on for this next bit – you won’t be missing anything. Pop back in 5 minutes.
- A qualified electrician should be employed to install a Steel Wire Armoured cable in a deep trench to provide mains power in your shed.
- Your electrician will want to locate your fuse box and may need to upgrade it before your shed is wired in.
- You’ll receive hourly texts from said electrician that you weren’t expecting – about your plug socket requirements; chrome? shiny or matt? bevel edged? Further text updates will be required on the progress and depth and your abilities to dig an adequate cable trench across your garden plus an abundance of other electrician- jargon loaded messages that will right royally get on your nerves.
It’s ok, you can come back now, techy stuff over.
The evening before day one of project Power up the shed Ryan texted me to say that he would be arriving at 7:30 a.m (ouch). Yes we’d be up and about and getting ready for school but actually it would be a right pain in the jacksy having a bloke lumbering around in bovver boots (my spell checker wants to say beaver boots! – I think that’s an entirely different type of boot all together) at that ungodly hour.
Day 1. He actually arrived at 7:20 a.m with a jaunty disposition – super jolly. He had no business being that jovial at 7:20 am with not one but two biros angled behind his ear and a bulging tool belt slung about his skinny frame like an undernourished Bob the Builder. His van was parked outside our cottage (he’d run over a lovely big pile of horse poo and it was nicely squelched into the tred of his left tyres) and as he unloaded it he whistled! Hold your effing horses! Whistling at 7:20 am in the morning? When is whistling even allowed anyway? Right, I’ve looked it up and whistling is only permitted after 2pm if you are a farmer and you’re trying to make your sheepdog herd a flock of sheep in a force 9 gale – that is officially the only time – glad I could clear that up. You’re welcome.
I went to make breakfast as he traipsed all his tools through the house to the kitchen-diner and plonked them next to the french doors leading to the garden. He brought in builder’s dust (from where exactly?) like a swirl of snowflakes as he persistently whistled through the house. Quickly I thought of a way of shutting him up – I’d make him a hot drink. I put the kettle on and offered him a cup of tea. It was then that he muttered six ordinary words in an ordinary sentence and yet they drilled ten bells of terror into my soul…..
“I’d love a coffee actually love!” it wasn’t his Devon accent (so thick you could stick a sandy wig on it and watch it run for president) that bothered me, I love a regional accent. Or even the toe curling use of ‘love’ in 2016. It was the request for coffee and not tea! I had Devonshire Tea, Earl Grey, Chai, Green Tea with Camomile (for all you grass and cow piss flavour needs) and even some ancient Lapsang Souchong festering in the back of the cupboard. But my only coffee was my best Costan Rican Aromatic blend filter coffee (Fair-trade) and it was all mine (even Ted knew to leave off) so there would be *swears* before *shares*. I could barely bring myself to do it but I plunged his coffee to the tune of his bloody persistent mouth music and the expletives in my head. Ryan and I had not got off to the best of starts and then to compound my 7:25 a.m irritation he replaced his whistling with slurping my coffee. Was there enough depth to drown myself in a milky bowl of weetabix I wondered?
After I’d dropped the children at school I came home and set about doing some writing. My romantic novel *Twelve Days and the Thatcher (inspired by a hunky thatcher who had worked in the village) was coming along now and I really needed to focus focus focus! Ryan continually interrupted me to ask questions or give me fascinating updates on my router cables and other developments in my shed’s electrics. You’d think he was project manager at the Blackpool Illuminations not wiring up an outside office but at least he took his work seriously? So when Anna (best local friend) texted suggesting a jolly up to the local garden centre for lunch: a meander round viewing varieties of bird table fat balls, over-priced chimineas and end of line *sale* rattan garden sofas that were still priced higher than a family holiday to Florida. I texted back that I’d be delighted to leave Ryan to his cables and drilling and pop out for a bit……
“Oh no! You can’t go out. I might need to ask you something about the job,” blustered Ryan seemingly hurt – told you he was #needy. One thing I liked about working from home was the freedom of movement (Ryan and Brexit seemed intent on completely bollocking that up). So you can imagine my irritation when I had to text Anna back that I was confined to barracks because of my overzealous lecky man. She didn’t mind swapping a nice garden centre toastie for a decidedly average one at my house and fully accepted that she wouldn’t get a cress salad garnish! I also asked her to grab a jar of instant coffee from the village stores on her way round. No probs said she…..
“He’s not a patch on *Thatcher Man is he,” whispered Anna unapologetically disappointed by the attractiveness of my electrician after her introduction to Ryan. In all fairness Ryan wasn’t a looker but there was no need to compare all skilled tradesman to Thatcher Man. A bit sexist in 2016 and like comparing all of us to Rosie Huntington Whiteley (Devon born super model off the telly and M&S adverts) such was the gorgeousness of Thatcher Man. “Oh and I forgot the instant coffee, soz!”she added. In my head *swears*.
After Ryan had interrupted our decidedly average toastie lunch for the third time (we were discussing Anna’s errant husband and Poldark plot lines) Anna couldn’t help but comment.
“Err see what you mean by needy, he seems to require a lot of external affirmation and recognition – poor lad,” she lamented sympathetically.
“He’s just annoying,” I countered.
“Yeah, bloody annoying!”
Later that afternoon I called out to Ryan,”I’m just popping up to school to pick the kids up…is that alright?” Is that alright? What was wrong with me? Sorry I didn’t pick you up from school kids – I had to make expensive coffees and persistent bants with the electrician.
Just before I ran up to school, I would pop in the village stores and grab some of their instant coffee (unknown and suspicious coffee brand no one has actually heard of alert). When I got to the shop there was a sign up in the window saying that due to staff illness they’d shut early – please use the Post Office in Stockton Abbott. Oh arse.
“Cup of tea Ryan?” I asked – all faux jolly on my return with the children. Listen to my sing songy voice – I am only offering tea, that’s tea! You are allowed tea, only tea and if you could finish up one of my sh*te herbal teas mores the better……what is it about herbal tea that is so deeply deeply unsatisfying? Discuss.
“I’ll have a coffee ta, and a coupla extra sugars wouldn’t go a miss love.” Ryan had very quickly and efficiently located my short fuse, he was obviously very good at his job. Annoyingly he downed the dregs and promptly announced that he was off for the day. Luckily I noticed before he went home that he’d left a phalanx of drills and sharp looking tools next to the french doors. Each power tool seemed to be suggesting that a passing tweenager might like to impale themselves on it or lop off a limb on an unsavoury looking blade. Ryan huffily traipsed back through the house to put the most lethal Freddie Kruegaresque looking ones in his van till the morning.
Part 2, will Ryan ever power up my writing shed?…find out next week in the second exciting instalment! It’s ok, I wouldn’t put you through that. I’ll wind it up in this post.
Day 2. Was much the same, he arrived at the ungodlys whistling – mostly the X Factor theme tune and demanding coffee. Out came my best Costa Rican etc again and a small part of my soul dissolved into builder’s dust. If you’re a coffee lover this will not seem overly dramatic. Ryan had the electricity on and off all bloody day and when the power was on he seemed to be drilling and every time the power was switched off the internet died and then took an age to fire back up – just in time for him to turn the electricity off again. I couldn’t check my email or Twitter. Imagine how many Groupon alerts I’d missed! I couldn’t do any writing and to make matters worse I wasn’t able to bake any effing cakes for the PFA cake sale at school. I’d be shunned by Clare (PFA Vice Chair) when I didn’t show up with 24 Bake Off standard identical fairy cakes or a twelve slice Victoria Sponge.
Day 3. Picture me in my cosy, electric light filled writing shed drinking my Costa Rican coffee, pouring over my laptop……………………………watching Poldark! Yes our wifi worked a flippin’ treat out there!
Err excuse me, I think the Poldark series writers are missing a trick here, shouldn’t Ross Poldark have a devastatingly good looking cousin/long lost brother/smuggling pirate mate in Devon? Come on Poldark don’t just pass through on the A30 in your horse-drawn camper van……stay a while!!!!
As you were!
*Twelve Days and the Thatcher: gritty love story set in a Devonshire village and stuff. Starring a very handsome and buff thatcher called Marcus.