Ted's shed was an eight foot by ten foot thinking space. Much more than just a building it assisted Ted's happiness and healthiness. Ted greatly valued the therapeutic advantages of pottering in the shed. It relieved his stress, lowered his blood pressure and boosted his self-esteem. Ted's shed was a 'glory hole' for his hoarding, a personal space for activities outside home and work. Ted was, what is popularly known as, 'A Sheddie'. Whilst in the shed Ted had some great ideas, all of which seemed utterly attainable at the time of concept. Peggy, Ted's beloved wife was mistress of the house but the shed was Ted's fortress. Over the years Ted had created wondrous things in the shed. Poker work pot-stands, glass bottle lamp-bases, bogey carts and doll's houses. Peggy and the family were constantly surprised and amazed by Ted's Shedwork. The shed, however, was out of bounds to all but Ted, admittance was by infrequent invitation only. Ted kept the shed key on his bunch. An old white shower curtain shrouded the window so that, when Ted was at work within, his activities were entirely confidential. Thus, whilst musing in the shed, thumbing through an aged mildewed copy of 'The National Geographic' Ted came across an article concerning 'The Taj Mahal' and had one of his 'lightbulb moments'.
In two years Peggy and Ted would celebrate their Golden Wedding. Ted could not afford to take Peggy to see the Taj Mahal as he would have liked but, he could however, bring the Taj Mahal to Peggy. Ted determined there and then to make a scale copy of the romantic and revered building............. using matchsticks. For the next six months Ted worked on his model plans enlisting the assistance of 'Online Joe', a thirty something computer graphics geek who Ted had 'met' via a Sheddie blog. Joe introduced Ted to a perfect 3D programme and, eventually, after much trial and error, Ted had completed the plans and sourced the materials required. It transpired that 170,000 matchsticks would be needed,90 tubes of specialist glue,12 packets of razor blades for shaping, foam rubber pads for the initial foundation and a pair of medical tweezers. Ted arranged for the parcels to be delivered to his local RAFA club, relying on the discretion of Stan the club manager with whom he shared his secret.
For the following 20 months Ted spent most of his available time in the shed, painstakingly shaping and glueing the tiny slivers of wood. A single light, an oil-stove and radio 4 were his only tokens of comfort. He maintained a discreet shed timetable which embraced Peggy's Tuesday morning keep fit session, Wednesday line-dancing evening, Thursday morning visit to her sister and Saturday shopping with friend Julie. In between he managed to sneak in for the odd hour whilst Peggy watched 'Corrie 'or' Eastenders. On occasions Peggy remarked upon, sometimes unkindly, the smell of fish glue but Ted managed to 'cover' with a variety of excuses ranging from next door's cat to last night's supper! With only 2 weeks to spare before their Golden Wedding Anniversary the task was complete. Ted glowed with pride and excitement. Every minaret and dome perfectly placed, azure pools simulated by deft paint strokes, it was, he felt, his masterpiece. He had a small, brass plaque engraved 'WITH ALL MY LOVE TO PEGGY ON OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY FROM TED XXX'.
Peggy and Ted arranged a buffet for family and friends to be held at The RAFA club on Friday October 31st, the actual Anniversary Day, Ted decided that' The Taj' should be unveiled at the occasion synonymous with the' toast'. Stan paid a visit on the Thursday morning prior to the event whilst Peggy was at her sister's and, between them, Stan and Ted loaded the model on its' dais into the back of Stan's van, packing it round with foam and card. Ted sat in
the back of the van, in attendance, as Stan drove, at funeral pace, to the club. On reaching their destination Ted and Stan dexterously unloaded the model and cautiously edged through the club's door and into the Function Room. Stan had prepared a table and the two men lowered the model down, covering it with a light cotton cloth to conceal and protect. 'I can't wait to see Peggy's face! She's going to love it Ted! Stan enthused. Ted tingled with pride and anticipation.
The evening was a huge success. A delicious buffet, dancing to The Aristocats (a three piece band from Barnsley) and a heart-warming toast proposed by Stan followed by the unveiling of 'The Taj'. Peggy was touched by Ted's sentiment and hard work (though she did wonder about the dusting 'The Taj' would need). Tired but happy Ted and Peggy got into the taxi, they decided to leave 'The Taj 'to be transported home next day. '26 Laurel Street please!' Ted instructed the driver. 'Oh I'm sorry I may have to drop you round the corner, there's a traffic hold up there, I'm not sure why'. 'It'll be those damn drains again' Peggy remarked. As they approached, Peggy and Ted were alarmed to see Freda their next door neighbour standing at the end of the road wearing a shawl over her pyjamas. 'Stop here! How much do I owe you?' Ted shouted. 'A fiver'll do'. Ted hastily paid the taxi driver and leapt out of the vehicle. Peggy was already making her way toward Freda. Freda greeted Peggy. 'Oh I'm so sorry, thank God you're safe and t'ouses are all reet,.........young monkeys'! 'Why what's happened Freda'? Peggy clutched her beads anxiously. 'Blasted Trick or Treat' Freda responded'. They've set a rocket off in a bottle and it's gone through your shed window and set blaze t't lot'. 'Not my shed'? Ted paled. 'Yes, I'm sorry love, fire engine's ther now, they've got it under control but shed's gone. It's damaged that cherry tree next to it an' all. There's a terrific amount of smoke, that's why we've had to come out, they say we can go back shortly when t'air's cleared'.
In due course and after several cups of tea at Number 2, Laurel Street, Freda, Peggy and Ted were allowed back to their homes. Peggy and Ted saw Freda 'in' and then disconsolately waded up the water logged path to the end of the garden .A small pile of smoking ashes were the only testament to the shed's existence. 'Well you'll just have to find something else to do'! Peggy said, with almost a tinge of triumph in her voice'. Ted didn't respond, he was too upset. However, overnight, he had another 'lightbulb moment' and at 9 next morning Peggy heard him talking on his 'phone. 'Yes 10 x 8, one window, there's already a concrete base. Fantastic, Tuesday morning? I'll be here'. 'You haven't, have you'? Peggy asked Ted as he came downstairs. 'Yes love, it's an extra Anniversary present. You know the saying, once a Sheddie always a Sheddie!'. As Ted walked to the end of the garden for a 'reci' he heard Peggy say, under her breath, 'Well,it keeps him from under my feet!'
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