My occasional patch-up jobs around the home have expanded recently to extensive redecorating and building a couple of garden structures, but I didn’t know I had a problem until I realised I have a favourite B&Q.
In our house tasks are assigned along more practical than traditional roles. My husband does most of the cooking because he’s better at it, he quite likes it and dinnertime coincides with when he is at home. I do the majority of the work around the house because I’m here all the time, and after several years practice, I’m now better at it. That’s not to say my husband can’t do this stuff, he maybe could if I let him, but I refuse to trust a man who thinks there is something vaguely effeminate about reading the instructions and who considers using a spirit level as cheating.
So he restricts his involvement to giving ridiculous advice at the beginning of a project (that’ll need and least 6 coats of paint/ you’ll need foundations at least 5ft deep) before disappearing to look after the kids so I can get on with it. When I’m done, he’ll have a quick look and point out that now something else needs doing urgently (now you’ve put the shelves up we’ll have to get a new carpet/ Now you’ve painted the door we’ll have to repoint the brickwork).
He has yet to realise that his method of motivation is a foolish approach to take to a woman carrying a hammer.
Recently something has shifted in my mind, moving me on from reluctant home improvement and into the territory of actual DIYer. Over-familiarity with hardware shops is one sign. Always having a tape measure about your person, I think is another. A third is when you are faced with a problem in the house and your first thought isn’t what can I buy, to solve the issue, but what can I knock-up/adapt.
Of course shopping is what initially drew me to the DIY thing. It’s a total fallacy that men don’t like shopping, they just don’t like shopping for frivolous things like food and clothing, they just like the hunter-gatherer type essentials such as a massive gas-powered barbeque or an 18 volt cordless drill.
When I first decided to try and fix that thing myself rather than chuck it out and get a new one, I loved buying all the right tools and fittings. Eventually there was almost no job which we weren’t adequately kitted up for, from fixing a leaky tap to recalibrating a Hadron Collider. Nowadays however the aim is to fix/amend/bodge every job with the minimum possible outlay, which means we’ve got an awful lot of useless crap piling up in the garage on the off chance that it can be used in some future project.
As much as I quite enjoy my handyman side, I hope I don’t become as instinctively tuned to DIY as my dad, who does that dad thing of going round your house checking everything works, without even realising that he’s doing it. Now his brain tumour has robbed him of the knowledge to carry out even the most basic of repair jobs, he has found this sudden helplessness horribly distressing, as have we all.
Maybe that’s the attraction of Doing-It-Yourself. Perhaps I am drawn to it because it reinstates my confidence that I am capable of doing something more demanding than hoovering, less instinctive than child-rearing. Or maybe, if we were rich and I could afford to get someone in to do it for me I would without any hesitation, but until then I’d better on, that study won’t paint itself.