Men, stereotypically speaking, are supposed to be brilliant at DIY. My dad seems to spend all of his spare time drilling holes in the walls (usually so that he can put shelves up, but occasionally just for fun), and the jumbo-sized toolbox where he keeps all of his screws, spanners and drill bits is a source of endless concern for me. DIY enthusiasm, along with caffeine addiction and an inability to fathom the appeal of modern music, seems like one of the major job requirements if you want to be a dad, but those of us who aren’t so hot on the handyman front – and I’m hoping I’m not the only one – are in for a bumpy ride if we’re going to be hammering, spannering and drilling every Sunday afternoon. I’m a proper adult now, with a job and a sensible email address and everything, but the day when I pop into Homebase and set myself up with a set of tools still seems a long way off. Perhaps when I do become a father, my dad will show up at the maternity ward with some sort of Dad Starter Kit:
“Includes one complete set of tools, one pair of slippers, one book of terrible jokes, and one voucher for a free tie-tying lesson.”
Another thing I could never quite grasp – and this applies to both of my parents – is the drive to renovate and re-design one’s home over and over again. They would overhaul one room, then another, then another, and when they ran out of rooms they would simply have another crack at the first one. I never let them do anything with my bedroom, of course, although that didn’t stop my mum from sneakily re-arranging the furniture every so often. Coming home from a party to find my bed facing in the opposite direction was very disconcerting, let me tell you. I often promised myself that, if and when I owned a house of my own, I would leave all the rooms more or less as I found them. Some would call that laziness; I call it respect for the previous owner’s way of life.
Still, even if I never have children and live in some sort of unimprovable super-home, it’s inevitable that I’ll have to put my hand to some sort of handiwork sooner or later. And perhaps that’s a good thing; DIY phobia is just like a fear of flying in that the best way to beat it is to confront it. It might be a good idea to have a quick chat with your dad first (or failing that, an internet search engine), but once you know vaguely what you’re doing, you might as well just get stuck in. Most of these products are pretty user-friendly nowadays, and you can always ask for help if it goes awry. And who knows? You might just surprise yourself, and there’s no pride like that which a DIY novice feels when they do something right. I should know: I put a bed together once, on my own, with only the instructions for guidance. It was a very proud moment for me.
So if you have to do something constructive, whether it’s putting up a shelf, laying some laminate flooring, or building a whole blimmin’ house, my advice is to just give it a try. How wrong can it go?