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tidying the shed

If ever there was an Olympian task, then surely this is it.

The marathon? Pathetic. The 10,000 metres? Ha! That's egg and spoon compared with this. Do either of those involve tackling spiders the size of Bradley Wiggins' sideburns? These lads have been lying in wait for you behind those tins of paint since 2008 – the date you last tackled this part of your, ahem, 'estate' – and now come scurrying out crying "WOOOH!", waving their legs in the air and charging from one corner of the shelves to the next as if they are at their very own arachnoid opening ceremony.

More fool you. You had planned to get it all done before the Games began. A clean sheet that would somehow make Team GB perform better. But once the Games started, there was always something else you wanted to watch – Horseback Handball, Chinese and Korean "Beginners" badminton, Synchronised Weeping. The shed just got ignored.

It was the post-event interviews that did it. Suddenly it was you facing the tough questions. "So, while Team GB have been giving their all, you've just been lazing on the sofa. What about those promises you made about 'the big tidy'? Doesn't that mean anything to you?" "You're right. I feel I've let myself down, my wife, my country, the kids, the dog-"

So now you're here, in the half-light, surrounded by evidence of that most familiar of domestically transmitted diseases: detritus. Assorted bike pumps, broken strimmers, the European Flat Football mountain. Then there's a groaning at the back, behind the old wardrobe doors that you kept because you thought they might be useful. "Zahujacy, zapadam w sen." ("Sorry, I fell asleep.") It's Kris, one of the Polish guys who did the kitchen! "Dziekuje. Udaje sie teraz." ("Thank you. I go now.")

It's like that scene in Citizen Kane where the men are clearing his mansion, chucking the stuff in the fire – only you have far more things and in a much smaller space. It won't be "Rosebud" you whisper on your deathbed, but something less lyrical (but more useful!) like "Cuprinol". Gazing at the cans, one with its top not on properly as if it is tipping its cap, acknowledging you, you realise with a tragicomic rush of emotion that you've got your father's habit of always buying one extra. Or five in this case. Damn it, you've probably kept the receipts somewhere too.

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