There comes a crisis time in every man’s life that he dreads more than a prostate exam, the mother-in-law’s 90th birthday party or farewelling a faithful pooch.
For some men, it can occur several times in their lifetime.
It’s traumatic, emotional and usually involves a mini skip … it’s cleaning out the shed.
There are few places quite as sacred as a man’s shed, and at the risk of trotting out sexist and ageist clichés, there’s some deep underlying primal instincts driving a man inside his shed.
There’s a reason it’s called a man cave.
And when we say man, we really mean any human with attachment to their shed.
This is not just men - it could include women (you notice shed starts with “she”), those in the hazy middle and those who have changed, because we live in a modern age when shed ownership and occupation is not the exclusive domain of men.
We need to include trannies because even those who dabble in transmission transplant projects deserve our respect, although they do tend to have a lot of odd gears and greasy parts.
Clearing out a shed could be likened to a religious experience. It threatens the inner sanctums of a man’s privacy.
Some shed clean outs are completely voluntary. Some anally-retentive and OCD shed owners actually clean out their sheds as they go, in some sort of regular pattern.
These people - and we all know one or two - are close to nervous breakdowns and should be treated with equal amounts of compassion and suspicion, because there is nothing natural about a habitual shed cleaner.
These organised busy bodies have everything in its place, with labels and traced outlines of every tool and implement with peg boards. Some even have a little log book of who’s loaned which tool and when the due date of return was expected. They are the deranged garage version of the crazy librarian. But to be fair, they never lose a tool.
But most of us are in the category of random shed arranging. ‘Organising’ would be too strong a word here. Our sheds are ordered according to what falls on top of what. A thing will stand in the corner or against the wall, only ‘til some things of greater weight and imbalance cause the whole Jenga pile to collapse spectacularly onto the next pile of crap.
In really exceptional cases, the chain reaction can carry on right around the shed, with the finale being the step ladder toppling onto the wife’s car, causing it to buckle in the middle like an English politician attempting to Brexit.
Forced clean out
Other shed clean outs are not voluntary or progressive. They are events forced upon the Shedee, due to unfortunate circumstances, such as moving house.
Shed collapse due to excessive contents, wall pressure, borer, or unauthorised f**king with foundations/structure/overloaded beams/undermining/vehicle strike.
These are traumatic and serious events in a man’s life, so if you know anyone going through this, give them all your support and refer to our #shed victims’ support groups.
Recently I was forced into a Shed Re-location Process. I am still in counselling.
And here’s a word of warning for anyone facing this crisis.
Do not allow your wife or significant other to “advise” you on what to throw out, because in their eyes, everything must go.
They cannot find a skip big enough or a Salvation Army hungry enough to devour all the prized contents of your shed - things fastidiously collected and salvaged over the decades and some stuff handed down from generations.
Yes, that scythe is ancient and the hay baler is old. Yes, great grandfather did pull it behind bullocks. And yes, their yokes are hanging in the shed in case a bullock team wanders in… and we need to harness it all up again. And no, we don’t have any hay paddocks but we might, one day.
And when we do, one of the bullocks will be called Sandra.
Anyway, the way to get around this dilemma is: do it all yourself; have your mates help; or set some clear guidelines for ‘Non-Qualified Shed Persons’ to follow.
I found the best way was to label each shelf, hook and cranny of the new shed with designated subjects, such as fishing, vehicle, cleaning products, fishing, garden, hunting, diving, electrical, fishing, lube, ropes/chains/whips, fishing and painting.
Then, for the purposes of entertainment, a few other categories such as instruments of torture, fortune-making ideas, bones of enemies, planet-saving inventions and a portal to other dimensions.
One of my beloved family members helped for an entire afternoon and either didn’t notice those labels or politely refrained from commenting. Sad to say, none of those compartments contained any items except the ‘instruments of torture’ shelf, which has the 2019 Barenbrug Agriseeds Pasture and Forage Manual, 25th Edition.
I had problems ploughing through those chapters. Very factual but a terrible plot.
Great grandfather and his bullocks would be so proud.