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August 2006 -A Lot of Sheds

I wonder if there is anyone out there who knows what the collective noun is for a load of garden sheds?

I desperately need to know what it is, you see, in order to correctly commence this month's exciting epistle to you all.  Answers, if you'd be so terribly kind, on the back of a five pound note, to the usual address.

Just around the corner from Harvey Towers, and up the road a little way, they're towards the end of the process of creating some nice, new allotments, on which the green fingered population of the local area will soon be growing lots of positively perfect flowers, fruit and vegetables.

The council bought the field quite a while back.  They had it ploughed up, then they had loads of topsoil delivered and spread about.  As an aside, I understand there were lots of heavy political arguments about the precise quality of the particular topsoil, but I don't think anyone really cares whether dirt is Tory, Labour or Liberal.

We've now reached that point just before the allotments are allotted to their allottees.  However, before they are, it appears that every allotment has to be allotted a garden shed.

In order for this to take place, the carpenter allotted by the council has been busily beavering away over the last week or so, building all the sheds.  The last time I drove past, everything was erected and all the roofs were being finished off with nice, dark green felt.

There's just one odd point here, though.  Presumably in order to make the carpenter's life a little bit easier, and to save him a lot of walking around the site, he's built all the sheds in one corner of the field, all together, in rather a large cluster.

The sheds, there are probably about thirty or forty of them in this cluster, are all at random angles, none of them lined up with anything else, looking like one of those old army camps where nothing was built parallel to anything else in order to avoid everything being blown over in the event of a bomb blast.

It's a really curious sight, which will presumably stay with passers by for a while, until the council get round to moving each of the individual sheds onto its individual, allotted allotment.

You can now, I'm sure, dear viewer, understand why I was groping so desperately, earlier on, for the correct collective noun for this amazing apparition.

I've put out various enquiries amongst the more intelligent members of the wordy world.  So far, the best suggestions include a "panel" of sheds from a Mr H of The Borders; an "estate" of sheds from a Mrs B of Cornwall; and even, rather appropriately, an "allotment" of sheds from a Mr G of Sussex.

I think I'll ignore a "shed load" of sheds, from a Miss H of Kent.  I gather she comes from so far down in the bottom, right-hand corner of that county that I think her disability is that her first language must be French.

Now, as regular devotees of this load of old cobblers will be well aware, I have a great liking for words and an even greater liking for the odd ways in which some people have a habit of using them.

The more observant of you, out there, might have noticed the little, rainbow coloured, device which sits down in the bottom corner of all my web pages.  It's all about counting how many of you, good people, visit here and read my monthly words of wisdom, you see.

Yes, in very simple words, it's a counter.  Well, yes, it does tell me a bit more information about you than a simple count; it also tells me from which part of the world you are looking in, where on the web you've come from in order to arrive here; and then it takes a photograph of your nose hair for me to laugh at.

Actually, I'm being advised by my legal department ('er indoors) to explain that the bit about the nose hair photograph was, in fact, only a joke; otherwise I might fall foul of some of our wonderful government's draconian privacy laws.

It's all right, I can hear you, madam, yes, you in the fifth row back.  No, I haven't digressed into a complete cul-de-sac this time round, honest!  We're off on a little journey, you see, a little journey with the purpose of discussing the exact meaning of this word "counter".

The more observant of you, probably the ones who'd noticed the rainbow coloured device, will, almost certainly, have also noticed that a large number of sites on this world wide web thing have advertisements, many kindly provided by a certain Mr G Oogle.

This Mr Oogle has a habit of trying to make his little advertisements fit in with the subjects on the page that you happen to be reading at the time.  If I were to utilise his services on this page, for instance, he'd probably be trying to flog you roofing felt, or garden tools, or something else which fits in with the contents of the page.

One little problem, however.  A word, is a word, is a word.  It's somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible for Mr Oogle, who is apparently actually a computer, to work out the different meanings of a shed load of words which all happen to share the same spelling.

There I was, the other day, you see, logged in to my rainbow coloured counter account, checking on all the various visitors to this wondrous web site, when I happened upon one of Mr Oogle's little advertisements.

He'd obviously identified all the words on the page I was reading and was desperately trying to sell me this glass contraption, in which to display all my goods for sale and upon which to place my till.  Oops!  Sorry, Mr Oogle, wrong kind of counter!

I did find it rather amusing, however, even if it did prove Mr Oogle's total ineptitude and remind me never to use any of his other services ever again.

Talking of words, which we seem to be doing at some great length in this month's edition, you'll never believe it, but we've received yet another load of them, in printed form, from one of our favourite sources to have a moan about.

If you're one of those very few people who are new to this Nick Harvey's Comment lark, you might need to pop back and read the August 2005 extravaganza, in order to completely follow what follows; but regular devotees will clearly remember that 'er indoors had a letter from Mastercare last year, to wish our cooker a happy birthday.

Well, the idiots have been foolish enough to send us another one this year.

Poor old Mr Sloane, last year's Customer Services Manager, has been replaced by Basil this year.  A Mr Basil Keelan, it says down at the bottom, under his unusually readable signature.  You couldn't make up such silly names if you tried, could you?  And there was I, just accusing that Mr Oogle of being a computer instead of a real human being!

I can only assume that the old Sloane ranger must have been removed from his post for failing to encourage me into purchasing his lovely Coverplan when he tried last time round.  I can't say I hold out much hope for dear old Basil, either, mind you.

The letter's exactly the same as last year's, except for the signature and the fact that they realise that the cooker's now having its third birthday, rather than its second.

There IS one other significant difference between last year and this year, however.  Down at the bottom, there's a bit that says "As your equipment gets older, the cost of protecting it goes up".  Rather odd, then, that last year the price was going to be fifty-five pounds for two years cover, yet this year it's gone DOWN to just forty-seven pounds for two years.

It's abundantly clear that Basil's telling us huge porkies when he says that the price goes up each year, so why the (expletive deleted) ought I to believe one word of the rest of the trash he puts in his letter, I'm forced to wonder.  We know he didn't write the thing, in any case, as the text's the same as last year's one from Mr Sloane.

No, sorry, Basil, but we won't be taking up your kind offer.  I will send your reply-paid envelope back to you, empty, seeing as you seem to want it back so very, very much.  I've got better things to do with my forty-seven quid, thank you very much.  That amount might even get me a night's bed and breakfast at Fawlty Towers, you never know.

So there you have it, dear viewers, the August edition of Comment.  I think we ended up doing about three subjects in one, there.  Crikey, what value for money this Nick Harvey bloke gives you.  Better than bloomin' Mastercare, that's for sure.

More great value, in the form of the next, great edition of Comment, can be had on the first of September, if you'd care to pop back then for a viewing.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about talking to the council about getting myself allotted an allotment.  Not for the gardening, you must understand; simply for the shed to hide in.  Seems like a good idea, doesn't it?  Right, I'm off, where's me fork and spade?

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