DIY for anybody?

Most people think that DIY should be left to men, although many of them are hopeless when it comes to fixing anything around the house or the garden for that matter.

It is taken for granted that if a man could not wallpaper a room, retile a roof or fix the plumbing he was pretty incompetent, which obviously is not true. Unless we are talking about my father!

I do not want you to think for a minute that my father was really bad but he certainly had his moments. I can’t remember him doing any DIY in the house when we were young and it was only when I moved into my flat and needed some help did I realise that his skills were on a par with mine. Both of us were absolutely hopeless!

I did try many little jobs myself and it was really handy to have a hardware shop around the corner. The two lovely chaps soon became defeated with my constant questions as to what I needed for the job I was about to tackle. In the end they used to rush to the back of the shop and pretend to hide only to come out laughing and then try and understand what I wanted to do and which tools I would need!

I needed to put some shelves up and father offered to come and help me. He looked at the wall and said that we needed some special screws that had two pieces in them which opened out to give more support. So I beetled off to see my two friends in the hardware shop to obtain such screws. After a lengthy consultation about what I wanted to achieve they thought it best if they sent their young assistant round to see what exactly was needed.

To my astonishment the shelves were up and father proudly said he had remembered an old trick he learnt in the Army. The young assistant was flabbergasted and returned to the shop doubtless telling the two owners that not only I was incompetent but my father was too.

I put my books on the new shelves and thanked my father very much for his help. They did look good and I was extremely pleased until they all collapsed on a friends head. I tried to put the shelves up again but conceded defeat and hired the boy from the hardware shop to do the job. It was perfect and none of my friends were frightened to sit under them again!

One other time when DIY was a disaster was when I had a car with a soft top. I drove home for Sunday lunch with the hood down and then suddenly the rear view mirror fell off. This time it was my brother who said he would glue it back on for me. After much huffing and puffing with him sitting in the car while the glue set he called me to see his handy work. It was in the right place but sadly upside down so I drove home with the mirror showing just my feet.

I think it was safe to say that DIY is not for my family, it must be something in our genes. But I did have to learn to do it myself largely by trial and error, egged on by the chaps in my favourite shop. I grew rather bold and attempted to assemble a flat pack bed. I opened the box up and to my horror there was no instruction leaflet. I called the store and told them it was an urgent matter and if I couldn’t put it together I would end up sleeping on the floor.

I think my tone of voice helped them see that the problem was rather dire so they got some luckless chap on the telephone who talked me though the entire procedure which took a very long time. I am not sure who was happiest when the bed was erected but I rather think it was him. I felt so sorry for the poor chap and hoped his boss gave him the rest of the day off – far away from any hysterical women.

I did improve over the years and in the end my DIY skills were pretty good. When I met my husband he came around to my flat one day just as I was finishing off a little job so I had my tool kit on the floor. Only it really was a basket filled with jars of various screws and nails, a power drill and even one of those thingies you run down a wall to see if there are any electric wires or pipes before banging in a nail. I was pretty proud of my array of tools – he was just flabbergasted.

When we got married my tool basket was banished to the attic and his super wizzy tool kit came out. I felt rather a pang for the good old days of fixing things myself, disasters and all but he took over the DIY and was really very good.

I find myself living alone now and so I have to brush up on my DIY and find all my tools. I read recently that one of the largest stores have resorted to putting all the necessary tools needed for a task in one place. So if for example you want to fix a leaking tap then every item needed for the job will be stocked in the same place. What a brilliant idea, it stops you wandering up and down their aisles list in hand trying to find the necessary bits.

Recently I rather rashly ordered a new computer table which of course was a flat pack. My friends urged me not to try and do it myself and told me that the Council have a list of handymen who can do odd jobs at a special rate for OAP’s.

My tool box has once again been put in the loft. I am about to ring the Council and see if they have a handyman available to do various jobs needed around my house. My friends are thrilled to know that I am no longer going to try and do it myself. I can’t imagine why!


Written by: Jane Buckle


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Jane Buckle

My Grandfather was called Bertie Buckle. He was a journalist in Fleet Street then went to live in India and founded the Bombay Gazette. I am not certain this was true but that was what my father told me! I always wanted to be a journalist but ended up doing Public Relations and Advertising, both of which meant that I was writing Press Releases, brochures and articles about clients. I formed my own little business specialising in P.R and Advertising. Unfortunately my clients drifted away one by one. They thought young and enthusiastic girls were preferable to an old lady of 55! I then moved to France where I lived for six blissful years. I renovated and sold houses and finally I realised my dream and wrote for three magazines there. I even had my own column in one of them. On my return to England I pitched for freelance work with all sorts of magazines and papers. I did write some pieces but I was over the moon when Silversurfers accepted an article. I like to think Bertie would be proud of his granddaughter.

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