Tuesday, April 21, 2009


This event happened many, many moons ago when I was a very little tot indeed. It can only be told now that the guilty party - my father - is no longer around to be prosecuted.

I was still developing inside my mother when we moved into our first family home. It was a semi-detached house in a quiet, leafy suburb back in the days when crime was a rare thing and folks could leave their back doors open without fear of being burgled etc.
A short while after I'd made my debut into the world my father decided he was going to work on the garden. It was the first Spring time at the house and my dad had big plans to make the garden as perfect as possible, and this involved getting rid of the shed at the end of the garden.
The shed was a great, dark, monolith of a beast; it had been there as long as the house but although the house had been well cared for, this shed had been neglected and after some years had taken on a life of it's own.
To say it 'brooded' was an understatement. It sat right at the far end of the garden, taking up most of the entire width and thus blocking out the view of the golf course behind it.
My dad had tried to get in to see what lurked inside, but was beaten back by decades of ivy and spiders webs which rivaled a rain forest in density.

And so my dad hit upon the idea of burning the thing before finally razing it to the ground.

He thought this would be a simple plan, after all the shed was made of wood and wood is known to burn. Granted, some of the wood appeared to have been petrified with age, but still it was wood.
And so early one Saturday morning my father set out of the house armed with a large box of matches, some kindling, a crowbar, and just in case the shed refused to catch fire a handy can of good old pink paraffin.
Under cover of the dawn's first light he set the kindling around the driest corner of the shed and lit the first match. It didn't catch, so he tried again but to no avail.
After the fifth attempt he decided to give the kindling and the wall of the shed a splosh of the pink paraffin and to his delight the shed finally caught light.
As the flames loosened the ages old planks of wood, my dad pulled at them with the crowbar and began to pile them into a pyre so that he could control the spread of the fire, and all was going well until the wind changed direction.
He'd just given the shed wall another trickle of the pink stuff when a gust of wind spread the flame up to the roof of the building. It was only then that my dad realized that the roof was covered with pitch, and the problem with pitch is that although solid at room temperature, is fluid under heat and also, if made from petroleum is highly flammable.
So you can imagine what happened next.
My dad backed away as the roof began to melt and burst into little patches of flames, slowly revealing what lurked within the confines of the dread shed.
It was when my father espied the large can marked 'petrol' that he turned and ran as fast as he could.
The explosion that occurred a short while later not only demolished the structure of the shed waking the entire street as it did so, but set fire to one of the ancient trees that overhung the outbuilding.
A very short while later the street began to resound to the clangs of fire engines arriving and it seemed that the entire local fire brigade had arrived to break through the gate to the garden and let loose their hoses on the remains of the flaming shed and the tree which was threatening to spread flames to the adjoining trees along the golf course.
My dad did the only thing he could do under the circumstances.
He hid in the house, changed back into his pyjamas and dressing gown and then ran out into the street to accompany the neighbours with their cries of alarm and concern.
After about twenty minutes the fire was out and all that was left of the shed was a pile of smouldering planks. The tree however was also badly burnt and had lost many of it's branches leaving it about a quarter of the height of the surrounding trees.
My dad denied all knowledge of what had happened and very fortunately for him the fire brigade decided it was a sad case of 'youths from the local council estate' playing about with matches.

And he only ever told what really happened to me, my mother and his close friends after he'd had a couple of whiskeys one Christmas, so don't tell anyone I told you what really happened, akay?