Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Warwick Collins - shedworker


Although better known in Europe than the UK (at the moment) the very personable novelist Warwick Collins is the author of, among others, the widely-acclaimed Gents. He is also a shedworker and was kind enough to answer a few questions for Shedworking.

What kind of shed/garden office do you have?

About 8 years ago I had recently sold film rights for my novel The Rationalist and, unusually flush, I engaged a local architect to build a brick studio at the end of the garden, in amongst the trees there. It was built like a house, with insulation between walls, on a raft of reinforced concrete so the tree roots wouldn’t undermine it. The photograph is taken in midwinter, so you can’t see how surrounded by foliage it is in summer and autumn.Why did you get it and why do you like working in it?
I like walking out of the house to a separate place of work which, even though it’s only a few yards from the house, seems like an entirely different sphere. I don’t have a mobile telephone and in the shed I have no communications, so it’s a little oasis of peace and concentration.
What, if anything, don't you like about it?

I’m afraid I like virtually every aspect of it. It would be even better if I were remotely tidy or well-organised, but that’s my failing, not the shed’s!

At the severe risk of sounding like Alan Partridge, do you have any funny or unusual shed-related stories?
The tree overhanging the shed is a walnut tree. This is much prized by the local squirrels in the mid-summer when the walnuts ripen. I have no objection to the squirrels taking all the nuts, except that they insist on eating them on the branches above, scattering the green husks all over the terrace. Walnut is a famous stain, too, and the mess looks disgusting, even to a person of my tolerance of disorder. To encourage the squirrels to eat their spoils elsewhere, I have a very strong water-pistol (little things please little minds) and since squirrels are truculent by nature, I have a running battle through the summer which I claim gives all parties innocent exercise. Once I was chasing a squirrel running along the garden wall and I slipped on some moss and nearly cracked my head. I’m glad it wasn’t worse, not least for the embarrassment of explaining the details to the medical world. I could envisage headlines in the local newspaper. WRITER HOSPITALISED AFTER PERSECUTING SQUIRREL WITH WATER PISTOL.

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