Posted by: docdenbow | April 20, 2013

The Horns Of An Unpleasant Dilemma

At present I am sitting on the horns of a particularly unpleasant dilemma. There are, it must be said, two reasons why this is most displeasing. Sitting involves putting one’s derrière into such a position where it, rather than one’s feet support one’s entire body weight. Sofas and comfortable chairs are ideal for this purpose. Horns most certainly are not. Dilemmas are rather rum chaps too. They are the evil trolls of life urging you to take one course of action or another neither of which is right and neither of which is indeed wrong. However, if the choice you make goes hopelessly and spectacularly awry then these blighters are there dancing up and down in delight at your misfortune. As you can see the situation in which I currently find myself is not a pleasant one. If you add in the type of dilemma that I am encountering it is doubly disagreeable to have one’s posterior perched upon it.

For you, my dear reader, to understand just what I am facing then I must relate to you the entire sorry tale which has led me to where I find myself today. I will therefore *Begin at the beginning and go on till I come to the end: then stop.* (apologies to  Lewis Carroll & Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) It is quite a long story, so get a nice cup of Earl Grey and make yourself comfortable.

In an earlier piece here I wrote of my admiration for the characters created by Peter Tinniswood in both print and on Radio 4. The books A Touch Of Daniel, I Didn’t Know You Cared, Except You’re A Bird and Call It A Canary, were greatly enjoyed by yours truly, yet tinged with disappointment that I never heard the Radio 4 series. Within these mighty tomes the trials and tribulations of a northern family were related from a comedic point of view. Through these towering works of literature I became a lover of real beer (not that London muck), proper soft drinks (as sold in the temperance bar) and allotments. But that is not strictly true. Whilst it is true that I would dearly love to have an allotment, I must point out that all of the digging, raking, hoeing, weeding and planting does not interest me in the slightest. I suppose that you are wondering why a fellow such as I who enjoys the great outdoors for only its sedentary leisure pursuits and the occasional dip in the brine would want with an allotment. If you are being left puzzled then I will tell you.

It was the spectacular allotment shed that made my desire for an allotment burn deep within my soul. I saw this staggering edifice that, in my case, would be constructed from assorted and neglected materials would be a place of retreat. A place where a man could be a man, safely hidden away from the incessant nagging of the womenfolk. In an allotment shed a man could brew his tea with water boiled on a primus stove, listen to the cricket on the wireless whilst sheltering from the torrential rain which would be pinging like gravel on the corrugated iron roof.

Throughout a chap’s life, his wants needs and desires change. What would satisfy a young buck in his twenties would serve as a tedious ennui to a fellow such as I, who is now built more for comfort than speed, as the saying goes. Yet, even in his twenties this chap here, wanted that messy monument and now as he approaches the last hurrah before decrepit senility finally sets in this fine upstanding fellow will get at long last the object of his desire, a shed.

For many, many years Mrs. Denbow has kept me fully appraised with regards to my desire to have a shed to call my own. Time after time down the long and happy years of our union she has advised me that I don’t want a shed. Being ever the gentleman, and meek and mild, I have been only too happy to concur with my lady’s advice. Besides it is jolly bad form to disagree with the fair sex. My ever loving wife has long decided that the construction of garden outbuilding is a skill way beyond my feeble capabilities, and that a shed, summerhouse, gazebo – call it what you will – would be what she calls an *eyesore.*

Yet now, after many years of pleading, cajoling, beseeching my quest for a little place to call my very own appeared to be coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Mrs. Denbow has expressed a desire for our gardens to be landscaped. She has assigned the work to me explaining that twenty five years ago she watched me and my glistening torso as I toiled to moved mountains of earth by the utilization of nothing more than a simple garden spade and a brewers’  bucket. She has gone on to inform me that re-laying one hundred or so paving slabs will be very good for my constitution. Furthermore, she has also let me be aware that the erection of twenty four heaving duty fence panels is also required and that I am liberty to carry out that arduous task as well. Mrs Denbow is not a taskmaster to be taken lightly. The final piece of this never ending jigsaw of the beautification of our outdoor terrain involves that hateful wooden fashion item known to the lower middle classes as *decking.*

I would contend that decking was forced upon the public’s consciousness by a small tight knit community of orthopedic surgeons. My wholehearted belief is that these orthopedic surgeons were finding business a little slack and contrived to invent some product that would cause the most injuries with the minimum fuss. What better product than decking? When even slightly moist decking becomes slippery in extremis and several rather heavy falls will result. Add in the wintery factors of moss and a soupçon of ice then heavy falls and broken bones will add to the trade of these medical men.

It is this wretched decking that appeared to have been my saviour on the garden outbuilding front.

One afternoon over high tea Mrs Denbow once more brought up the thorny subject of the *D* word. For very possibly the first time in our marriage I pulled rank as the breadwinner and man of the house and forbade her from even discussing the matter further. She, rather suspiciously agreed I add, to this provided that I would permit her one final observation. I agreed, as I had no wish to add humiliation to my spouse’s submission.

She made her observation as agreed and upon hearing what she said I came to the final irrevocable conclusion that the female of the species possesses a cunning that even the most devious of men cannot hope to emulate. Her simple observation was thus:

“Oh my dear, you are probably right about the decking. What do I as simple lady know of the art of horticultural landscaping? It is simply that I thought a little shed or summerhouse would look quite enchanting when sitting on some pretty decking.”

So gentlemen, you will understand my dilemma. Do I accept defeat and take the decking with the prize being my long coveted shed, or do I intractably stand my hard fought ground in finally defeating Mrs Denbow? I desperately need a face saving compromise that will give me my ultimate prize of a small timber homestead whilst satisfying Mrs Denbow’s desire for decking. The thought of total capitulation does cross my mind, but the opportunity to ensure that for once I am not totally emasculated leaves me in a quandary.

At present I know not what to do.

A chap needs advice.

Please help




  1. Compromise. Take the shed. Let her have some decking but not a key to your newly padlocked man cave. It has to be your space entirely. Tell her you’ll lay her precious decking if she chucks in a dab radio and all the tea you can drink whilst you’re inhabiting and writing in your new dwelling.

    • This tale is slightly fictional, however decking and shed are looking like they will become bedfellows.

      Are you impressed with my flowery prose style young sir?

      • I like it, I like it a lot!

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