29 October 2014

Of sheds, garages, back rooms and studios

Today dawned wet and dull. The Morgan 4/4 is centre stage within the garage going nowhere. Various things have been through here but some remain on the drawing board, ideas delayed or shelved. The tools and pots of glue, paint, nuts and bolts hold clues to things hand-made.  I feel in synchrony with this conveyance.  A solicitor I once knew, owned an Alvis 21 drophead coupe which had a brass plate on its wooden dashboard engraved with the words "This Conveyance".

Classic legalese opening words that appear on property sale contracts and seemingly appropriate to the Morgan.

Miah Argust, my maternal grandfather had his little shed very full.  Files, saws, shoe lasts, rolls of cotton wrapped wire, radio valves and a couple of small transformers. Not until many years later did I discover what some were for. I  chanced upon a photo of members of  Treherbert Amature Radio Club.  There in the front row was pictured my grandfather Miah. He made his own radio sets in this shed and here was the clue to his forgotten hobby.

My paternal grandfather nick-named "sympathy joe" by Miah, had his back rooms stuffed with debris and dusty bundles of  "The Connoisseur" magazine, brass lacquered magic lanterns for projecting early colour slides, long-case clocks, pendulums, boxes and drawers of brass knobs, hinges, clock parts and escutcheons as well as antique furniture and china. One of several hats he wore was that of an antique dealer and here was evidence of that phase in his life. Another phase was airframe fabricator of WW1 BE2c bi-planes but I found no clues here. However there was a long cardboard box that contained one spare (aluminium) wooden leg. (He lost a leg in a motorcycle accident.)

My own father had little in the way of tools. Never keen on DIY, his hobby was wildfowling and his "shed" a locked cupboard housing his treasured 12 bore shotgun. His punt gunning involved preparing his own cartridges. Lead shot, black powder, wadding and empty cartridge cases were all clues found.

My mother had no shed. Her tools: the sewing machine, knitting machine, thermometer and medicine chest. Her hobbies: oil painting, toy making and pottery. You might say the whole house was her shed.

Brother Jerry had three sheds, each overflowing out into an open verandah. Andrew's sheds are also full but still productive and his red Morgan  4/4 4 seater sits in his garage alongside many more useful tools. Brother Martin has a garage brim full of boxes and bicycles, children's toys, garden machinery and tools which only he knows how to find.

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