While I might not be able to hold a conversation about football or cars, there is one blokey subject I’m willing to bump gums about: sheds.
As the late great Nick Drake put it: Leave your house. Come into my shed. Please stop my world from raining through my head. Please don't think I'm not your sort. You'll find that sheds are nicer than you thought.
When we bought our Victorian ramshackle flat in Nairn over four years ago it came with a substantial garden shed and a one-eleventh share of a communal wash basin at the bottom of a shared drying green.
Upon opening the shed back in 2006 I discovered all sorts of nonsense, including a semi-ornate wooden wardrobe. With no lighting and more than its fair share of cobwebs, the shed made an ordinary piece of furniture seem ultra-creepy. As a result it remained unopened.
But this weekend the Green Dad Cleaning Blitz continued with a dramatic discovery at long last. Can you guess what was inside the wardrobe?
I half expected to see Tilda Swinton in her white witch regalia offering me some Turkish Delight (she did once offer me a piece of her Crunchie at the cinema) but all I got was a spider and some tubs of turpentine.
The cupboard is now a useful storage space and enabled some reasonable tidying of the shed, with a car boot load of curiosities taken to the recycling depot. The shed actually feels spacious - plenty of room for three of my four bikes and a friend’s bike. We’ve also added a huge plastic trunk containing some of Toddler’s sixteen billion toys. This will help de-clutter the house and can be produced later in the year to almost certain shrieks of joy at the rediscovery of forgotten goodies. My mum tells me this trick, I mean technique, was used on me and my three siblings to great effect.
There will have to be a second phase of shed rehabilitation as the area Beyond The Wardrobe is still like a bomb site but already Wife Features says she can see me in there with everything neatly shelved and curtains on the window. It doesn’t have a window but hey, I could put one in! And get some lighting into it. Maybe even a wee heater, an old armchair and my turntable. Uh-oh. I really am thinking about this too much.
Will I become one of those dads who has been called in from the shed several times when it’s teatime? Part of me hopes so!
Meantime good news on the allotment front. The tattie diggers of Nairn are apparently ready to roll with diggers to revive the waste ground at the bottom of our street. There’s a wee waiting list for a plot but a fiver will secure our place. One of the best fivers I’ll spend, I bet.
One of my favourite childhood memories is from about 1985. I remember being in the garden of my Papa’s council house where he was lifting tatties and passing them to my Gran in the kitchen. She peeled, chopped and fried them, wrapped them in newspaper and handed them to me. In the space of a few minutes I had watched the creation of that most magical Scottish experience: a poke of chips.
Maybe Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed will enjoy a similar experience. The only question remaining: how do I wean her off tomato ketchup and onto brown sauce?