Not Cameron’s Shed …


Let’s face it: the EU and its global corporate masters have been very good at one thing. No longer is Europe a collection of different nations – and I’m not talking here in the political scene – most of the old traditions have gone or are failing, brand names of products, once with familiar names, have in many instances been replaced by some bland nondescript Euro name, although as far as T.V advertising goes that seems to be less on show these days, as are car advertisements  resplendent with standard EU logo on the number plates and left hand drive. 

Odd that. Perhaps manufacturers’ marketing departments have noticed that the EU logo doesn’t always attract the sort of attention that they thought it did in the U.K. Upset the punters and, as Ratner’s and latterly Gillette found, it can have a drastic effect on your balance sheets. As business no longer understands service, quality, customer satisfaction and most importantly customer loyalty,  they can expect to be hit where it hurts most: on the balance sheet. 

That’s something that the political parties seem unable to understand. All the main parties are advertising one set of policies or values in manifestos and on prime-time media while actively, behind the scenes, they are doing and planning the complete opposite. The chickens though seem to be coming home to roost, with many publications seeing readership drop and a general mistrust of much of the output from the main televised news outlets.  I’ve lost count now of the people who, in conversation, have said that they no longer watch the BBC or SKY and particularly their ‘news’ output.

It is advertising that gives a lot of concern, as products and views are pushed almost subliminally by slick videos and soundtracks. Much of that was always done, but in times when technology was not as developed as it is now, most did not notice. The BBC pushed government ‘values’ for years, before being taken over by left wing bias which can be traced back to the late 1960’s.  Look at some old news footage to see how news was presented from a particular viewpoint even before then, but at least they were not particularly anti-British although much of the coverage of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland often left you wondering just whose views were being presented as news. 

It’s interesting to see how the media in all its forms is used to push a particular agenda. Take Cameron for example (please do) – suddenly back in the news after apparently letting it be known he was getting bored. I did wonder why this was apparently ‘newsworthy’ at the time, but then, of course, came ‘the shed’ …

Dave apparently bought a ‘shed’ to write in – as you do – not just any old shed though, a twenty-five-thousand-pound shed. Must be some shed I thought, and it turns out to be a modern version of a road workers’ hut on wheels, of the type that used to be towed behind a steam engine many many years ago, but is now called by the image-conscious chattering classes a ‘shepherds hut’.

Anyway, we all know that he finished his book after a reported £800k advance, now launched with maximum publicity in the Murdoch Press with little impact on the public apart from ribald comments. The public wasn’t  particularly interested and wouldn’t read it anyway – that’s if they could remember who or what he was. Many people and first-time authors in particular may wonder why someone who is very wealthy and can afford a £25k shepherd’s hut needs an advance of £800k and publicity from a sycophantic press outlet in the first place.  

I can’t think that sheds on wheels will have had a huge increase in sales either, but just how popular are sheds these days anyway? Many homes have gardens hardly big enough to site the garden gazebo, perched on decking, complete with glass side panels and pretty lights along with the bar-b-que and furniture, never mind a shed. 

Although I’ve always hankered after a shed. There is something timeless and interesting about the idea of one. I can still remember as a  child my dad’s shed, being beguiled by all the boxes (never opened from one year to the next), cans of half empty paint stored in case they came in useful sometime, the smell of stored apples, a sack of potatoes and the biggest spiders you ever saw, along with the smell of petrol from the lawn mower and creosote from the yearly coat of preservative used to protect the wooden walls and doors (not the same since the EU banned creosote saying it was carcinogenic, the replacement being not half as good or giving off that wonderful smell which also helped sufferers to clear their catarrh).  

Over the years I’ve seen sheds used for many things. There was a woman in a nearby town many years ago who had a large shed built in the garden of her small ‘semi’. She basically lived in it as she was very  house proud and it saved using the day rooms in the house. Locally, another person who had the now almost unheard of disease of T.B, lived for years in her very well appointed shed away from the house and presumably sadly from the rest of her family. 

One of our neighbours built a shed. He was a very skilled engineer and his shed was his private workshop, complete with lathe and a full set of tools. A friend of my dad had a beautiful shed, complete with barber’s chair and mirror, where we were sent for our ‘short back and sides.’ He’d been a barber in the army so really knew his trade, although his full time employment was in a local factory, this for years was a nice little part time  earner.

A friend, now in his mid-80s and always a practical and able person, finished his latest shed a couple of years back. It almost finished him too as he fell off the roof while fitting the roofing felt. Undeterred he’s since completed a horse drawn caravan of the gypsy type, even making the wheels and doing the artwork. Skilled people, these shed owners. 

Shed culture appears to be another part of British culture that seems to have died or been killed off, presumably with the popularity of plastic conservatories. What ever happened to verandas, I wonder. Now plastic conservatories are being changed from glass roofs to light weight tiles as people finally realise it seems that glass roofs make the conservatory boiling hot in summer and hard to heat in winter. Perhaps that’s why ‘call me Dave’ bought a shed.

I’m reliably told by someone in the ‘trade’ that the new ‘must have’ is an orangery. Sounds like another must have being pushed by the marketing people, conjuring up ideas of country living and spacious gardens. Some hope of that in the wonderful modern world of charming detached (almost) country homes!  Perhaps it is to go with the two labbies, the Hunter wellingtons, the padded gilet and the SUV parked outside in the road as it won’t fit in the driveway of their designer home.  

The one thing sheds are good for though never changes. If you want to get away from the machinations of the modern world, politics and talking heads on radio and TV, get inside your shed, close the door and enter your own private little world. Who knows you may be able to write a bestseller!


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