I was halfway through the task of putting up a curtain pole in the bedroom when I decided I could use a spot of musical inspiration to spur me on. I say halfway as in I had eliminated two out of the four methods I had hit upon in an attempt to get the damn thing to stay up. The fourth was to hurl the flamin’ pole out of the window into the garden so really I just had one more option to go.
I picked Right Said Fred by Bernard Cribbins. Then I went to have a cup of tea. I was getting nowhere.
You see, DIY has never been my thing and I blame my dad. He’s not very well at the moment, but I still feel he can’t shirk responsibility. Not once did he show me the workings of his tool box or even explain how to put up a heavy picture. My brother once put up some shelves, but as for me, well, merely looking at a drill brings me out in a cold sweat, never mind switching the blighter on. I was trying to put this curtain pole up with a screwdriver and a few screws. Well, I reasoned, it must have been how they did it in the old days. Or maybe they were quite happy to parade around in their bedrooms in the nude for all to see. I haven’t watched much Downton Abbey so I don’t know.
The greatest shame is that my lack of confidence means that I will most probably be unable to pass on any DIY skills to the kids. Thank goodness my wife knows her way around a Black and Decker work bench, but even when a particular task defeats her, she turns to me and says: ‘Why can’t you do this?’ And I do what I always do: I blame my dad. It’s a vicious circle in many ways.
This curtain pole situation coincided with a week in which we had been becoming increasingly concerned that the kids weren’t attending any clubs. Our eight-year-old daughter had given up jujitsu and no longer wanted to go to the youth club up the road. Meanwhile her brownie group had finished. As for our six-year-old son, well, he is yet to show any interest at all in joining a club or society, not for the want of trying on our part. Our main worry is that as time goes on, they’ll be left behind in the friend stakes. Their school is very small and these extracurricular activities, to our minds, are the main way for them to make new pals.
As I gazed out of the curtainless window, it suddenly hit me what I needed to do. One day when they are old enough, I am going to sign them up for DIY classes. They can learn to put up shelves, fix broken doors, fit kitchen floors even – all the things we need doing around the house. Maybe they can also go on a car mechanics course. I’ve spent close to a grand on the cars this past mointh. Think of all the money we’d save in the long term.
The genius of this idea, though unable to help me out of my current DIY predicament, certainly encouraged me up the stepladder one last time to try out option three in my grand plan – literally propping up the curtain pole on some existing wooden pegs jutting out of the wall.
Sure, it was a make-do solution, but one day, if I play my cards right and get the kids on these DIY courses, one day I’ll never have such a problem again. They can even teach me a few tricks. It’ll be money well spent, a perfect investment, more so than, say, jujitsu. Yes, I know there’s the self defence aspect to that, but who is going to mess with someone with a tool box who knows how to use it, eh?
As I folded up the stepladder, I even considered making a few calls. But what about making friends, the wife might say? The way I see it, if we can equip them with the ability to put up a curtain pole with ease and fix a dodgy clutch, they are going to have no shortage of friends – for life.
It was brilliant, I convinced myself, slamming shut the door to the bedroom. Suddenly, though, there was a thud and a snap. I grimaced then led out a resigned sigh.
The calls to kiddie DIY classes would have to wait. I needed to get a man in.