The Thirty Five Timely & Untimely Deaths Of Cumberland County

By Mason Ball

1934: a doctor struggles with belief, mortality and murder; a novel inspired by real events

Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Shed That Isn't

It really is a strange feeling having a virtual shed. I mean, what do you put in it? Should I be shopping for a virtual lawnmower? Some nonexistent rusty bicycles? An imaginary Black & Decker workmate?

I don't have a real shed. I live in London. And work in cabaret. I can barely afford to keep myself in gin and mascara, let alone stretch to a garden and a shed to put in it.

My only experience with sheds resides in my childhood.

I have very early memories of our shed. It seemed huge and decrepit, frightening, leaning drunkenly, all peeling yellowish-greenish paint and dark, yawning interior; home to stacks of greasy planks, dust drifts that, disturbed, swam in the sunlight that cut through the gaps in the roof, and home, of course, to a thousand spiders.

My mum tells me that I was about five when it was torn down. My dad tells me that the shed itself was full of asbestos; he recalls throwing a piece of it on a fire he'd set at the bottom of the garden. There was a loud bang and the piece of asbestos rocketed through the air, ending up at the back door of the bungalow.

Soon the monster was gone, torn down and replaced with another, smaller, newer shed. Petite and upright, introducing the young Mason to the beautiful and intoxicating scent of creosote.

My enduring memory of the new shed was that it served as venue for the death of my sister's guinea pig (whose name escapes me - sorry Fluffball, Starsky, Le Bon, whatever you were called). My sister cried and hugged me, I had no idea what to do, I just stood there, mortified. I think I recall asking my parents if we could burn the body. I was a lovely child.

I can assure you that no rodents of any kind, real or virtual, will be cremated within this shed.

Forever the shed-dweller,


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