Unlike Joseph I am not a carpenter, nor can I claim to be the Father of Jesus.
It is often said that there is a moment in a young actor’s life when he realises: “I shall never play the Dane!” This is a predicament that I can empathise with because, likewise, there comes a time in every chap’s global turn when he realises that, despite outfitting like a labourer, he will never be a DIY expert.
This bone juddering day, dear reader, arose this weekend. At this point, I shall not say that it came as bolt from the blue; nevertheless, it has meant that I have had to reappraise my dream of wintering in a Norse forest – spending the short days chopping wood, growing a thick beard, living of the fat of the land and writing existential poetry.
My DIY career was given inauspicious start. My father is naturally a wonderful luncher and is, of course, able to demand great authority when ordering a large whisky at his club; however, place a hacksaw in his hand and he turns into snivelling wreck.
With no Pythagoras how was I expected to be Plato?
Nonetheless, I pressed on through life, displaying the kitchenware production skills of Phillip Starc when I made a ravishing – red, of course – nutcracker at the age of 11. A child prodigy I heard them proclaim or perhaps it was the schizophrenia kicking in.
Although I have assembled the odd barbeque here and a shelving unit there, all with great fuss, this weekend I embarked on a rather more serious job: changing my curtains. Out went the drab, once cream, drape to be replaced by a joyous William Morris print set.
Easy I thought; nip down to the hardware store, bish bash bosh and the new curtains would be up and dazzling before Sunday lunch: best laid plans of mice and men.
My DIY career continued through school to little acclaim, however, I did receive a C in GCSE. While others were constructing futons, bird houses or dining room tables – my final project was, of course, a drinks cabinet that doubles up as a bedside table.
For those who prefer to call a strapping Pole in to do their manual labour it is important to note that, when one changes curtains, a new curtain tack is needed. With great gusto I tore down the old dusty cracked tack and, with the old curtains, put it in the bin. I got all the bits and bobs and lined them up.
I felt like Sir Norman Foster before ‘the Gherkin’ went up.
A major strategic issue was that I don’t own a step ladder. So, like any decent bloke I improvised.
My, now naked, window is next to my bed so I plonked a rickety dining room chair on it and set to work tapping the screws in place in preparation to be screwed – said the actress to the bishop!
The screws proved rather difficult to fasten manually so I moved to the power drill, a piece of equipment that I am not comfortable with. Nevertheless I pressed on. I balanced on the chair that was as sturdy as a drunk on a boat and drilled until my little heart was content. But the screws wouldn’t move an inch. The top of the chair kept tapping the window pane: it all felt a bit like the opening scene of the BBC drama Casualty.
I decided to draw stumps when – for the tenth time – the power drill slipped from the screw and narrowly missed my fingers. I decided to walk along The Thames to contemplate DIY, ending up in a pub in Chiswick.
The next day I was reinvigorated and ready to win the battle of the curtains so I called in my dear friend Daniel ‘Mad dog’ Maddox, who quickly and succinctly popped the five screws into the wood. I held the screws and passed them to him in assistance. He pointed out that I was using a drill bit that was too large for the thread, which had essentially bored into a useless bowl: riveting stuff!
I attempted to pop the tack onto the aforementioned hooks but was easily defeated, Dan returned to finish the job. Well, dear reader, not all of the job. I quickly came into my own when it was time to put on the curtain hooks – like a Swiss-finishing-schooled house wife I threaded the hooks and hoisted the curtain.
I stood back to look at my functional artwork, only to realise that I only had one of the two curtains that would certainly not stretch across the window. The optimist in me told myself that at least the room would be half as cold as the night before.
Back to the drawing board, or the pub.