Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Great Australian Shed
Along the journey of my unconventional childhood, I was introduced to ‘the great Australian shed’. As Australians, we are excessively fond of our sheds. My theory regarding this lies in our convict heritage. After all, we arrived in this harsh land, with nothing but the chains on our feet. The ships that brought us here carried more guns and soldiers than tools. Ingenuity was mandatory. If the aristocracy had arrived without the convict element they would soon have died; manual labour was of more value in this new land than following correct morning-tea rituals.
Of course, it’s only a theory.
At first, when very young, I thought the shed was where Dad hid from Mum. Later on, I discovered that although there may have been some truth to this assumption, there was so much more to Dad’s shed. It was chock full of useful tools that Dad used to make marvellous things. I was constantly fascinated and often joined him there, and the fact that this was a place of gentle harmony added to the appeal.
Mum would get up a full head of steam to tackle the housework, taking on the mantle of martyred slavery. Mops, buckets and vacuum cleaners would appear. Dad would stand near the back door and clear his throat.
“I’m just ducking out to the shed, Else,” he’d say.
I would stand next to him.
“I’m duckin’ too,” I would add, holding my breath and crossing my fingers. Escape was so near but so far. Because we were both deemed hopeless at assisting Mum in the housework that began at dawn and ended at midnight, she’d let us go with a weary sigh.