The shed housing the Dalek stands inconspicuously enough beside the basement Museum of Classic Sci-Fi.
Could you, could you really make it up? I wonder. The idea of a Museum of Classic Science Fiction, in the heart of Allendale, when mooted by sci-fi fan Neil Cole a couple of years ago now, seemed far-fetched anyway, but now that the museum enterprise is up and running, and amusing passers-by and visitors alike, you’d not imagine that the impressive Dalek that stands guard outside the museum would be subject to an eviction order because of its garden shed. Would you? Ever?
And yet that’s the story today, as Neil works social media to elicit support for his home-made treasure and its unassuming shed. Well, the Dalek was made in the school where Neil teaches, actually, but it’s certainly a photo opportunity, not to say a selfie-shot conjured up out of a timelord’s extraordinary vision.
I guess the shed is situated outside a Grade II listed building, and I guess there are rules about such things in a conservation area, though I think I’d rather smile at classic British eccentricity than be a slave to all the rules around. Why, they’ll close down the fire at New Year’s on Health and Safety grounds, next! And that’s been going on for time immemorial, hasn’t it? Or at least since high Victorian times. But we all know how the imposition of an accumulation of rules has limited the fire over the past decade. And, too, I’m an old enough resident to remember how the MarketPlace was denied lovely outside lighting which would, it was said, detract from the village character.
Anyway, Neil believes that his Dalek and its shed are a fundamental frontispiece, or attraction for his museum, which together have elicited nearly 1000 visitors since opening in October last year, and that’s why he’s fighting the eviction order. He says he can move the Volvadis (a kind of Tardis configured on the back of a police car/Volvo?) into the parking triangle, once MOTed and taxed, to join the other assorted vehicles parked there. But the shed is the real rub.
You know, I wish Neil and his museum all the very best, and hope he doesn’t get too discouraged by the vicissitudes and idiosyncratic applications of planning law. But there’s more than one way to deal with any challenge, and if the public appeals fall on deaf ears, if the worst comes to the worst (the order is for removal 12 days hence), then a different sort of entrance to the museum might just have to be on the cards. Businesses have had to put up with worse, after all, and we all know that Daleks could never be vanquished by a mere wooden shed. Stairs maybe, not sheds. And certainly not the county council.
Meanwhile, the publicity machine just rolls on and on; this is a story guaranteed to attract significant attention, and that can do no harm to the little museum that could, the Museum of Classic SciFi in the heart of Allendale. Perhaps, if he can manage to look back calmly in a year’s time, Neil will be able to thank the complainers who triggered the council order, for their stimulus to his enterprise. But for now, the fight is on!
What, inconspicuous little old me? Surely there must be some mistake — are we in another time warp, or what?