Doodles in the margin from an artist living and working in the Scottish Borders.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Joy of Shed

A shed, yesterday.

I have a shed.

It's the first shed I've ever had. I installed a workbench (I say workbench, it's two planks of wood at the moment) and cleared out the stuff that had ended up there as the overflow from the house move.

I began to turn my mind to the renovation of my Dawes, now that Judge Dredd is done and dusted, and the prospect of tinkering with it in a bona fide shed is an appealing one. As it happens, we went to Kelso this morning to pick up a mountain bike and a lightweight aluminium frame that we bagged through Freecycle. They were from a man called John (thanks, John), who was being slightly forced to get rid of them by his wife, who seemed to think he had come up to some sort of bicycle plimsoll line. I had the chance to see what she meant, because John showed us his shed. "Do you restore bikes?" he asked, and I said I was working on one - hesitantly, because I could tell from the way he asked this was a man who'd spent the greater part of his life tinkering in sheds, knew vastly more than me and could probably identify fourteen brands of British Lightweight by feel alone. And then he took us to see his "projects" he was working on.

Man, what wasn't he working on. He had a couple of hand built Flying Scots, a 1960s Dawes frame waiting for stripping and powder coating, a couple of Brompton-type things (he said he had a bit of a thing for small-wheeled bicycles), and was on the lookout for a Raleigh Twenty folder, and he'd just completed a fixed-wheel project with a frame he'd got from Vancouver. And there were others, stacked and dangling in said shed; road frames, mountain bikes, BMXs he was doing up for neighbours and so on. He delicately removed a lightweight alloy mountain bike frame from a cardboard box; it was worth about four thousand pounds and, I couldn't help but notice, splendidly finished in Tartan. "If I'd not been here," John said, "my wife would probably have just given you this."

As we were leaving, he was still offering tools, odd bits and pieces, handlebar stems, nuts and so on. And this was all Freecycle, mind, he didn't want anything for it. I take my hat off to you, John; thanks a lot. I've put them in the garage and will be compiling a good bike for Laura out of the one frame and two bikes she's got. Which brings me back to the shed.

I can't wait to start hanging tools from nails and finding an old chest of drawers to put stuff in. I dream of one day having a drawer entirely full of anonymous and inscrutable offcuts of metal such as I found in my dad's workshop this afternoon when I was looking for something else. In the meantime, I'll be happy to aim for a chilly autumn evening, a mug of tea, a small portable radio, the Sports Report theme tune and the voice of James Alexander Gordon. Magic.

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