I have two sheds. The one is not enough. The first shed is empty with a trapdoor in the floor leading down to the Large Sweetcorn Collider as has been exaggerated appallingly by Roth. The second is just odd.
From the outside it is a lapped wood panel shed about 6' x 4'. I keep a workbench, a comfy chair, a little coffee table and a few books. The workbench looks out through the tiny window onto the garden. There is a fluorescent lamp running down the inside ridge of the roof. Very simple. Very ordinary.
Now push open the door and enter. It is totally as I described. I can stand at the workbench and look out the window. The chair, coffee table and books are behind my bench standing position and also facing the window. The light buzzes above. Everything faces the window.
Everything faces the window because to look the other way is a little disturbing. The far wall is missing. In its place is a tunnel. It has wooden lapped walls, the fluorescent lamp continues along the ridge of the roof. It looks like it goes miles and disappears at a tiny point of light. It draws the eye awfully, in the way that something totally impossible in a shed often does.
Sometimes I look into the distance, turn, go out and walk around my shed. There is nothing unusual outside. Not that unusual anyway. A couple of tulips fighting a neighbouring cat. Genetics is so fiddly. One false gene and you've got plants that hate cats and can express their feelings.
Maybe when inside I should face the tunnel entrance, because things come out of the distance. Alternatively, I could just buy another shed.
I'm also fairly sure the other end sort of 'flaps around' a bit. I've distinctly smelt sea air and fish and chips. I've had a small amount of desert sand blow around my feet.
I was sitting in my comfy chair when a strangely dressed man on small green ride-on motor mower shot past my chair and came to rest against the leg of the bench. He cut the engine, jumped off yelling "Where are the French?". He noticed me for the first time.
"No French here", I said, a little surprised. This doesn't happen often to me. Even in this shed.
"Are you sure?", he said.
I patted my pockets, and looked around. "I'm positive".
"You speak strangely for an Englishman. Are you sure you're not French?"
"Yes, I'm sure". I had a small piece of brie in the fridge. Better not mention that.
He thought on this for a moment and seemed a little more relaxed, relatively speaking. More relaxed, like one sugar less in a whole bucket of espresso. He'd decided I was friendly or at the very least neutral.
"Would you be kind enough to point me in the direction of Henry's line?"
"Henry. The King. His Majesty. King Henry V."
Why do I have to get a nutter on a motor mower in my shed? It's not fair. I wanted a coffee, a nip of nice malt whiskey and to sit down. I decided to humour him until I could escape or hit him on the noggin with a large mallet.
"How did you get here?", I asked.
"I was caught in a French charge. d'Albret's men were wielding two day old french sticks and cutting through the lines of English lawn-mower men.", he paused, "There is nothing as hard or nasty as two day old french loaves. In the right hands one of those will cleave through the blades of an English mower like a burning arrow through hot lard."
I was a little surprised, and tried hard to remember my history. "I thought the English used longbows against the French?"
"Dear me, no! That would be so 1414!", he gasped. "Ride-on motor mowers. Fantastic". He thought some more. "Well, until the French started using old, stale bread. Not so clever then."
I couldn't find my mallet, and the door was behind him. I also wondered if there was a platoon of deadly bread-wielding Frenchmen closing on our position as I we spoke. With haste I helped him turn his mower around and pulled the starting cord. It chugged into life. They don't make them like that anymore.
"The French will be closing on our position any minute now. Head back down the tunnel, I'm pretty sure they'll be gone when you get to the other end". I was pretty sure I'd be gone as soon as he was out of sight.
He revved up. I was impressed how well tuned it was, it sounded like a Harley-Davidson after a service.
"Good luck", I yelled as he roared off down the tunnel. "Bring me back some Camembert".