Saturday, 19 January 2008


Sounds all very artistic, doesn't it? Do you imagine something breath-taking, hanging on a wall in a gallery or home, depicting the lives of 2 wonderfully creative, well-known artists or writers and all the travels they had and secrets they kept, finally exposed to the public, after the death of the last, aged one.

Well, it's not that at all. "The Collage" is a new name I have just given to what some people call a shed. Ours is a pole-framed house which means that, when it was built it was cantilevered out and attached to tall poles. Later this underneath part was filled in by a previous owner and now forms a storage area and Roger's workshop. When Roger asks me "Do you know where the such-and-such is?" I will reply, in a wistful and toffy voice "Oh Darling, I believe that is now part of The Collage. Must we disturb it?"

In truth, it is a collection of everything we have ever owned that no longer works or has been outgrown by the children, or is a part of something else which broke but had useful bits that were kept or is made of something nice or even packaging that we can't bear to throw away because one day we may want to package up something. Today this became something precious as I was feeling all nostalgic while I was rummaging through all the stuff looking wouldn't even believe it but I will keep it brief...

The beginning was back in ancient history but basically I have decided to resurrect the worm farm. I told a couple of people I was going to the fishing shop to get the worms (cheaper than the hardware shop!) but before I did that I started on another project which required me to dig a hole in a certain place, which I did. As I stood back to rest my back for a second I noticed a million, tiny things wriggling in the soil I had just dug out.....tiger worms, some just hatched even and some much bigger and recognisable. Yes, this was one of those places where I had half buried my cut-off pickle-barrel-cum-compost bin. When the stuff rots down to the soil level I remove the barrel and cover the semi-composted remains with soil and straw and leave it until its done. No shovelling when I do it this way and it makes a great place to plant deep-rooted things later on. The worms had finally eaten through all of it and were still alive. So, I had a supply of worms of my own. Now it seemed like a good time to find the old worm farm and get this next project going before the worms all died from me bringing them out into the heat.

Some time later I emerged with cobwebs in my hair and the look of one who had gone on a show ride, thinking it would be gentle and lovely but discovering instead that they had entered into a terrible war-game, and just escaped alive but triumphant! I had found not only most of the worm farm (the tap was missing - I think I know where it is though) but also had a brilliant idea about what to put it on - a flat-topped wheel barrow that Roger had made for me from a frame he got at a hard rubbish collection about 20 years ago. I loved it but I lent it to son Hugh some years later, who wrecked the wheel so completely that Roger couldn't fix it and a new wheel never came our way. Now, this was the thing I referred to earlier which, when I went back in to find it, made me realise the magnificence of the whole collection. There it was - the handles just visible propped up in a corner, and surrounded by other stuff we had at that time - a rabbit hutch Roger made for Alex, a cupboard that we used to take camping (another story), an oven that provides spare parts for the oven at the shack (interesting story there too!), some coloured glass sheets from years of lead-lighting and a porta-loo we used to have in a caravan on a block of land, before we had the shack.

It was then that the word "collage" came to mind. As I looked around I saw other eras set in other collages dating up to the present day. A veritable treasure trove of history, sealed in an underground vault. Sealed because it is almost impossible to ever get to anything in the far reaches as the ceiling is low and there are dozens of pipes everywhere, in fact the whole of the house's plumbing system weaves around in a crazy fashion down there. The barrow is now wheel-less and anyway totally inaccessible so I am using an old milk crate instead. Problem is that it makes it impossible to slash the grass which inevitably will grow under it, where-as a barrow - at least one with a wheel, even a very flat, stiff wheel, could be shifted enough to slash around and under. Maybe, when there is the next rubbish collection I will find a wheel, somehow we will shuffle all the stuff around like a Rubik's cube puzzle and get the barrow out and Roger will attach it and you can all marvel at it next time. More likely it will be forever part of "The Collage" of two crazy people who hate wasting things.

No photos - too embarrassing.


Maggie said...

"A picture is worth a thousand words" this is a longish article, I reckon we should get a picture!

Kate said...

One day, perhaps!