Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 7 November 2010

They say the lion and lizard keep...

Guilt seems inseparable from DIY. About jobs not done, jobs done badly, ignorance of the method, ignorance of whether jobs need doing at all. Even the competent seem gnawed by the maggot of what the French call la culpabilité.

To shrive myself I “get a man in”, unconvinced by those who preach self-dependence but skirt the trauma of a botch. This concerns a slightly different botch.

The Yale lock on the front door lost a small screw and became perilously wobbly. B&Q doesn’t retail items with small profit margins but Hereford has a shop specialising in brass bits. An interior crammed with dusty stock where light is admitted grudgingly, plus the knowledge that he is the last resort for many, has turned the still young owner into a severe autocrat.

He interrupted my preamble: “Get a wider screw than you need and screw it in until it jams,” he said. Even I was appalled by this ruthless pragmatism but such is his Messianic nature I did exactly that. The botch – ugly and visible - has held for about five years. But there’s the trauma, bearable for me but not for one who knows the maggot. A new lock, soon?

ME? A SCAB? The National Union of Journalists, which I joined in 1954, is striking against the BBC. Once the chapel (ie, branch) I belonged to refused a pay rise of 32% and held out for 35%. We were “deemed to have dismissed ourselves”. As editor with powers of hire and fire, my position was tricky causing my oratory to rise dizzily: “There’s only one thing worse than a pyrrhic victory and that’s a pyrrhic defeat.” People remembered that years later. But still voted to strike.

10 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

Our front door also needs attention. I feel that after 9 years, we must get a man in.

Re journalists strike, I wondered why the Beeb (radio 4) had schedule changes. Could this be the reason? It won't do you know, I need my weekly dose of The News Quiz and the classic serial

Have answered your questions over at my Mosaic blog.

The Crow said...

Is that a decking screw in there, or did you need something to fit your screwdriver head?

As long as the lock continued to work, your DIY was just fine. I mean, how many people are going to notice it isn't flush, anyway? They're going to be too busy looking at that gaping hole just beyond. Deflection is the magician's - and the DIYer's - credo and best trick/tool of the trade.

Well done, BB!

Sir Hugh said...

I suppose you knew I would rise to this one.

As far as I can see the screws are only holding on the faceplate, not attaching the lock to the door. The other screw could have been removed and the faceplate glued back into position with Araldite, or perhaps a contact adhesive and then the screws replaced, the misbehaving one being given a dose of glue as well. Then at least the screws would have matched instead of having one crosshead and one Philips! Just to be totally anal one could put the slots of the two screws in line.

Avus said...

Get the man in, BB.
Belloc's comment applies:

"Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan."

Avus said...

As a Khayyam fan I was attracted to your post heading, but the relevance eludes me.
Or do you see yourself as the deeply imbibing Jamshyd?

Plutarch said...

I found it very hard to be an editor and a member of the NUJ. In the end I resigned. From the NUJ, I'm afraid.

Lucy said...

Perhaps the modern equivalent of Avus's Belloc quote: from I forget where the worst misjudgement since Roy Hudd said 'Put the Yellow pages away, son, I think I can sort it'.

My in-house bricoleur will almost certainly identify with the guilt. However, knowing his perfectionism and tolerance level for the vagaries of the artisan classes, living in a half-finished house and chronic worry and guilt about DIY is probably the least worst option.

I'll ask if he lines the screw heads up.

Barrett Bonden said...

HHB: I know you don't live in Alice Springs but I can't rid myself of this belief that "getting a man in" in Australia means he'll probably arrive by Cessna. What interests me is your (and Alchemist's) psychological attitude towards the defective door. Does it pop up during (and spoil) the walk with Blue Dog? Is it the subject of troubled dreams? Are you able to shut it out of your mind for months and then have it return - all the more painfully - like a small heart attack? Is there a real reason why it's never been fixed?

Sorry about the disruption to your listening. But the NUJ's concerned with pensions and I fear there will be another strike in a couple of weeks. There's even talk about striking at Christmas.

I've read the mosaic update. Thanks for drawing the veil on this unknown world.

The Crow: You see, you're showing off. How the heck would I know whether it's a decking screw? I do however have lots of screwdrivers so the choice of screw wasn't screwdriver-driven. Hah, hah.

The real point about bodging is not whether people will notice but that the bodger knows it's there. And it preys on his mind.

Sir Hugh: There's a couple of misunderstandings here. I am sure there are a hundred ways of doing it better, but it's the frame of mind by which DIY is approached that concerns me. You, for instance, quite rightly regard yourself as a competent and conscientious DIY-er; but you do not escape the charge I raise in the post, that of a person driven to do these things and therefore not quite mentally healthy.

Just to set the record straight this project (if it deserves that word) arose because the second screw was lost.

Avus, pt 1: Oh, I do, I do. And I've always liked "And serve him right." But certain artisans, like carpenters, are rare in Hereford. When swing doors were replaced with sliding doors between the dining rooom and lounge chez Bonden the man I got in was Sir Hugh (see above) and he lives 200 miles away.

Avus, pt 2: Congratulations. This is my 416th post and in the past I've put a great deal of effort into my headlines. But it's an art that's easily missed and on this occasion I decided to opt for total mendacity. The line (about Jamshyd) flitted through my mind and I thought how concisely and evocatively it expressed the idea that the court was no longer occupied; for no other reason it went in. Normal service will be resumed.

Plutarch: I thought you dropped out for aesthetic reasons. Couldn't stand to hear about yet another derisory offer, another instance of management intransigence, another exhortation directed at Comrades.

Lucy: So it's perfectionism driven by guilt and, possibly, he lies awake at nights. As I pointed out to Sir Hugh (above; my brother) it isn't only the incompetents who suffer; those that are good at it exhibit a certain amount of restlessness which bespeaks a mind not entirely at ease with itself. However, much more important, does your comment contain a clue as to why your kitchen is off-limits photographically?

herhimnbryn said...

We are not 'Cessna' remote. Also, two front doors. Main door and flyscreen door. The latter is 'quirky' to lock, but having the knack to do so has delayed any repair!

Hattie said...

We have a pocket door in the front that is impossible to find hardware for. So when we go away we just shut it and hope no one breaks into the house.
All our valuables are in a bank vault, so any of you thieves thinking of trying to rob us, forget it!