The Mr Bean of DIY

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I’ve been helping out with some renovation at the pharmacy where I work. I know – me too. Why in the world ask me – he who cannot even saw in a straight line, hardly knows how to use a drill, and is to all intents and purposes the Mr Bean of DIY.

Mercifully – for the sanity of all concerned, and no doubt the structural integrity of the building – the real work was left to a proper experienced tradesman. I was simply an extra pair of hands, to help with the lifting and carrying, do the cleaning up afterwards, and occasionally attempt some breathtakingly simple tasks myself – under supervision, of course.

Well, as long as Phill felt I was useful to him – and he did, actually – that’s all that matters.

I can tell you I have finely honed my skills at removing nails and screws from old bits of wood, hoovering (The Other Half will be pleased), and even stripping and rubbing down walls (it took me two days to wash the brick dust out of my hair – and it’s not as if I’ve got much hair, either).

But no, I still can’t saw in a straight line. Come on. You’re just being silly, now.

All of this is a bit sad, really, when you think that my Dad worked for most of his life in the building trade. So, for example, when my parents had a new kitchen built on their bungalow, he did virtually all the work himself.

It’s just a warm human tragedy that I managed to inherit practically none of those skills myself.

Well, I did learn that there were a number of things I would certainly never try myself. Wallpapering, for instance. Or anything to do with water. Any type of plumbing task, however menial, was clearly asking for trouble ...

I tried to vent a radiator, once. Fairly simple, you might think ... except that I managed to lose the little vent screw, so the thing started spurting water everywhere.

There was me, trying to ring a plumber with one hand, while desperately attempting to plug the leak with the other, like that Dutch boy with his finger in the dam.

Sigh. No, me and DIY have just never got on, somehow.

In fact, when my Dad was doing our kitchen extension, there was only one task he’d entrust me with – cleaning the mortar off old bricks, so they could be used again.

A simple manual task, no real skill involved, a bit brainless even ...

Ah, but hang on, there IS one DIY job I can do tolerably well, if I say so myself ... painting. All you have to do is prepare properly, and take a bit of care – and even I can manage that.

So I was quite looking forward to the point during the renovation at work when I could show what I could really do.

But you’ll never guess what. It was just another warm human tragedy that by the time everything else was finished and we were finally ready to start painting ... I had no more free time left, and had to go back to my normal day job!