Grand Designs

Well, construction seemed to be progressing at a great pace. Just from staring out of my kitchen window I could see everything seemed to be on track. When I’d left for work this morning, work hadn’t even commenced. I didn’t actually know it was even planned, but looking out of the kitchen window I saw the structure was nearly complete. Just the roof to go. It was a hell of a shed. More HufHaus than shed. Loads of glass. They don’t fuck around.

My wife came and stood next to me and we both looked out of the kitchen window. “They don’t fuck around,” I said.

“You’re going to have to say something,” she told me. I didn’t reply, although I knew she was right. I inhaled and exhaled through my nose. “It’s not right,” she added and I scratched my forehead. “Go on,” she urged. I looked at her, she was serious and so I did a big, long blink then went out the back door and across the path. The knocking of the cement mixer was loud and with all the builders in hardhats it was hard to pick out Adam. Eventually I found him. He was studying blueprints.

“Hey, Adam!” I shouted. He looked up from the plans and nodded at me, but I could tell he was busy and didn’t have time for chit-chat. He pointed for a workman to go somewhere. “Yeah, so…” I said, feeling bad that I was disturbing him. “This is looking good,” I shouted and nodded appreciatively at the massive shed that was taking shape. Adam pushed me aside, for my own safety. Ropes around me were being tensioned as the men in Caterpillar branded Yakamas pulled the roof trusses upright.

Adam was shouting at another man. I stood there next to him and winced at the noises and waited for him to finish shouting. “The thing is-” I managed before Adam cut me off. He did this by lowering the plans he was holding, huffing, and staring at me. ”Look, it’s not even me, my wife told me-“

“This isn’t a good time,” said Adam, gesturing at all the work taking place.

“No, no, I appreciate that it’s just-” Adam moved me again, I was still in the way. “It’s just that, well, this is my garden.” I looked up at the roof taking shape and then risked a glance at Adam. He was staring at me as I knew he would be. “It’s… well, yeah, it’s, like, my garden.”

“Excuse me?” said Adam. He was being difficult.

“I’m sorry, I’m just saying, you’re… you’re building in my garden. This is, like, totally my garden. That’s your garden,” I said, pointing to the place where this morning there’d been a fence separating our gardens. The fence had mostly gone.

“Let me tell you about something called the holocau-“ he was cut off by a workman asking if he could move my barbecue. Adam said he could. I stood there. I knew all about the holocaust. He’d last explained it to me two days earlier when he’d parked his Audi right outside my front door. I had to go around the back to get the shopping in.

“No, I know, rough times and again, I can only apologize, but come on. It’s… It’s my garden.”

“Your apology! He apologizes! That makes everything okay,” he said, sarcastically, like he had an audience.

“I really am sorry but…” I wanted to say that it was mainly the Nazis in the olden days who had done the… you know, holocaust. But I understood that that was petty, because the whole of humanity also had responsibility. “I wish I could have prevented it,” I said. “And isn’t speaking out against things that are wrong… That’s… And I don’t know, you… in my garden, it seems kind of wrong maybe?” ‘Maybe’ was high-pitched, and I was squinting.

“And how is it your garden exactly?” Adam asked, challenging me. Again, we’d been through this when I found him and his family in my paddlypool.

“Well, I bought it,” I told him. “It’s in the deeds, it’s legally my garden,” I said, the sides of my mouth turned down to convey guilt and regret.

“Again with the deeds!” he snorted.


“Were your deeds written by God?” he asked.

“No,” I sighed.

“It must be nice to have laws to protect you. Where were laws to protect us?”

“No, I get that,” I said, nodding. I got that. “I mean, I suppose you could ask, you know, where was… you know, where was your God? When… when…”

“What did you say to me?” he said, standing tall.

“Nothing! Sorry.”

“So, what is it you want from me?”

“Absolutely nothing!” I said.

“Oi vey, make up your mind already,” said Adam, shaking his head like he was trying to communicate with a cretin.

“Just… I just don’t want you building in my garden,” I said weakly. It sounded like an utterly ridiculous complaint, when said out loud, especially after what his ancestors had endured.

“So you do want something!”

“I mean…”

“Fine,” huffed Adam. “No more building in your garden.” Despite still holding the blueprints he almost did air quotes when he said the word your.

“So…” I said. He looked at me. I looked at the new building and then back to him.

“Well, that’s there now, isn’t it?” he said. I looked at it. It was fucking there alright. I could not argue with that. It was blocking out the sunset.

“No more though, yeah?” I asked after a few more moments of looking at the shed. Adam didn’t reply, he’d walked off and he was shouting at men again. I gave his back a thumbs up and nodded and then headed back towards the kitchen.

“What did he say?” asked my wife, once I was inside.

“Yeah, he’s going to…” I said and we both gazed out of the kitchen window as I inhaled and exhaled through my nose.

Categorized as Gold