Perseus and the Garden Shed

Perseus saves Andromeda: Edward Burne-Jones

Perseus saves Andromeda: Edward Burne-Jones

You will all, being well brought-up folks, have heard of Perseus.

Perseus: a hero with a name that, etymologists hint darkly, comes from times even older than those of Ancient Greece. The name means: destroyer. Sacker of cities.

Conceived by a father who took the form of a shower of gold, set adrift in a trunk shortly after birth and raised by a fisherman on a remote island, Perseus’s first act was to sever the head of snake-limbed Medusa, she who could turn one to stone at a glance. He invented the quoit and managed to kill someone accidentally with it. He met the love of his life when she had been kidnapped by a rather large and sinuous sea monster, and made short work of it before claiming her as his prize.

Nothing. Nothing could stand in his way, not even the city of Mycenae, which he is said to have founded.

But even Perseus would have quaked, maybe paled just a little, had he met with the creature of mythical proportions which lurked menacingly in the back garden of a three-story house somewhere in England’s home counties.

My modern-day Perseus, who lives in the aforementioned three-storey end-of-terrace next to a voracious forest, had been planning to slay the monster for some considerable time. He had booked a week off from his day job; he had spoken to a local skip company about a suitable casket to take the monstrous pile away in when it was, at last, after decades of terrorising the local neighbourhood, dead and gone.

It glowered scornfully as the preparations were made, with an arrogance borne of decades unchallenged by any available hero. I laugh in the face of your puny skip, it emanated.

The day came when Perseus did not have to get into the car and traverse the M25, sitting down at his office in Heathrow. Now he could turn his attention to the living miscreation in the corner of the garden, just next to the fence.

But where does one start?

The garden shed was built, oh, at least twenty years ago. And then, by successive men, it was shored up and strengthened and beautified and adored. It had man-tools: mole wrenches and vices and at least 300 different types of nails and screws. But since the Shrewsdays came to live in the house opposite, all this industry had mouldered. Turned in on itself. Rusted in splendid lonely isolation.


Perseus stood in front of the brute with a very long sledgehammer indeed. Astonishingly long. And I stood at the kitchen window, and I thought, my darling, where can you possibly begin?

He began with the roof.

His tactic was to make a hole in the roof and then make it bigger. So that its weight would come down gradually, and not crush his heroic Ancient Greek skull.

It paid off, but it was chilling. When I brought out a mug of tea it became clear that the felt roof was a thing of living tendrils, which reached in like Perseus’s  old foe, the snake-headed witch, to grasp and destroy.

A thinking man,  Perseus just kept hitting the roof. And bits of it came down: all the tendrils, a small beech tree, roots, turf, sodden felt. And soon, though he was chilled by the most unsettling nature of the limbs which reached down, he had conquered the roof.

The walls were a matter of muscle: brute, heroic force and lots of very loud banging. He was subduing the monster, a plank at a time. The vile adversary would not go quietly. It made itself so bulky that not one funeral casket but two were required, entailing a further cost of £160. And it dug its great claws into the earth, so that Perseus must use all his might and ingenuity to prize it from its crouching place.

Now, the monster is just a carcass. Most of it has been carted unceremoniously to the local tip; a small amount remains to be carried off, forever, to Hades and a shadowy afterlife.

And Perseus is victorious. Grubby, but victorious.

The forest does not know what to do with itself. For twenty years, the shed has held it up. It droops, disconsolately.

The monster is no more.




28 thoughts on “Perseus and the Garden Shed

  1. You have such a way about you – making the most mundane seem glorious. I wish you had been around when I tore down my shed. In contrast to the classic glory you describe, my adventure was more of a Southern American Redneck tour-de-force. It began with mild hammering and prying of wood. It ended with a rope attached to walls on one end and my truck on the other. A great rending and crashing was heard! 🙂 It was so satisfying in that destructive male kind of way.

    1. Now why didn’t we talk to you before starting out on the endeavour, Michael? Your solution is simple and has the convenience of speed. And it vanquishes the monster, whichever way you look at it.

  2. Take an almost inconsequential piece of D.I.Y. and weave it into something beautiful. Thank you for giving me in an interlude from the labours of Hibernia…..

  3. Why are we deprived of a full pictorial history of the monster looming in all its hideousness, and of Perseus bashing away, and of the final defeat?
    Andromeda doesn’t seem too interested in the conflict. All she is doing is admiring the view through the embrasure!

    1. It has been a soul-dampening week here, Col: the rain has come down, and the light has been dismal. I have a few pictures on Phil’s phone, but I am still persuading him to release them. should I be successful, I shall post them accordingly.

  4. I admire your hero. OH is the Intelligent Designer of such things. I will not call him a creator, more a leave them lurking in the undergrowth as a sign of his undoubted mathematical genius. Like Col I too wished for a pictorial slaying and had to make do with the “radio 4” pictures you created instead. Possibly far more dramatic 🙂

    1. They were very dramatic, as is the hole which has been left. the forest comes to an abrupt and rather menacing end just above our gently decaying fence. Should I lay my hands on pictures I shall post them here. But they are quite similar to the one above.

  5. LoL – Taking down a shed is always a fascinating experience 🙂 Got to do mine soon but have to figure a way to get my home made workbench out first!

  6. My word, Kate . . . you do have a way with words. The eloquence of this post has raised your Perseus to heroic stature in my eyes as the disconsolate forest looks on the gaping void where monster once loomed!

    What did Felix think of his dad’s efforts? Did he get to swing the sledgehammer a time or two?

    1. I think Perseus was worried the monster might swallow him whole, Nancy: all Felix’s offers of help were ruggedly declined. And I am not sure Felix was particularly devastated…it did look a daunting foe.

  7. So good to hear that gods are still out and about, slaying sheds and brandishing hammers. Good for Phil, and his tea bearing mate. The forest, I imagine, will recover, finding its own way.

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