The handyman cometh

Who can fix a table?
Varnish it a treat.
Paint the dining room
And rehang all your blinds?

The handyman, of course!

Ah, the handyman. Only today I heard a radio phone in on how more and more of us are calling in handymen to do tasks we once would have tackled ourselves. Some commentators were saying that maybe we should try to go back to those days when we could all reach for a hammer and some nails at the drop of a hat or whenever we hear the crash of the blinds falling from the wall after our four year old son has attempted to play Tarzan with the drawstring, as in our house.

It’s a nice idea. My wife’s trip to London to visit and help look after her new nephew coincided with the two and a half days that we’d booked a handyman to come and finish painting the dining room we had valiantly started and do a few other odd jobs beyond my very limited DIY skills. It is probably one of the hardest knocks to my masculinity whenever I see another guy (or indeed gal)effortlessly competent at DIY and so to have someone in the house doing just that while I juggled the school run, the washing and tidying and walking the dog left my ego feeling that bit more dented than usual.

I didn’t really help myself. As I was clearing out the spare room, I chanced upon an old set of the kids’ table and chairs and by some miracle all the bits were there. Instead of taking them all to the tip, I asked the guy if he could put them together for me.

He took them from me, examined them briefly and within five minutes had screwed them all back in place. He did well not to express even the slightest sign of amazement at having encountered a new level of domestic idiot.

To be fair, he did have to create a new hole to screw one of the legs in place to make it sturdy – a solution he spotted and applied, as I say, in very little time.

And there’s the rub. We use handymen to save ourselves time. He put up a dining table that would have taken me half a day just to gather everything I’d need for the job and then the other half to struggle and swear my way through just attaching one leg. At best it would have ended in tears, at worst divorce. And yet here was this handyman demi-god fixing it in under half an hour. I daresay he wouldn’t have been that much slower blindfolded.

I place the blame for my very limited DIY skills on my dad. He never ever showed me how to do a damn thing, or at least never perservered in doing so. I vaguely remember him demonstrating how to get a nail out of a wall using the other side of the hammer head but that’s about it. I guess also some blame lies with my mother, who would have insisted that the only tool box that I was allowed to use was made by Fisher Price.

But then it is also my general lack of confidence when it comes to anything practical that means DIY is an ongoing no-no for me. Luckily my wife is significantly better than me in this department and I am sure will one day show our kids how to do these things. But even she struggles with some tasks and moreover undertaking them entails cutting into our precious weekends together with our young family.

As I was settling the invoice from this handyman chap, I told him about some of the many other jobs that need doing around our house. Could he manage any of these? His answer may as well have been: ‘yes, all of them.’

You see, when it comes to DIY, some people have it, some people don’t. This guy certainly has it – after all it is his chosen profession. In fact forget handyman, he’s a building maintenance miracle worker.

Which is why I will be getting him back as and when we can afford him to transform our home bit by bit. I don’t care what any radio phone in says. It’s a no-brainer when you think of the alternative – weekends of ranting because I simply cannot hang a shelf straight or use a drill without snapping the attachment.

Whereas, the handyman can because he fixes it with the love and makes your house look good.

Hey, there’s a song in there somewhere. Maybe I will sing it to the kids on Saturday as we sit down to eat at our renovated dining table, safe in the knowledge that it won’t collapse underneath us.

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