Get a man in

I AM thinking of writing a book about home renovations.

I’ve renovated three so far, so I know what I’m talking about. I am qualified to give advice. It’s this:

Get a man in.

Trust me. It will save your temper, your sanity, your marriage and possibly your life. You don’t need to be working on the roof to be at risk – merely changing a fuse could end up with you welded to the state power grid.

I know renovation is the modern way. It’s how one climbs the ladder to financial security: buying cheap, renovating, selling at a profit.

It’s also how one never gets to go fishing, or to the pub. And how the damn doors never fit, the walls are never straight and the S bend under the sink always leaks.

It didn’t used to be like this. There was a time when home renovations required a hammer and nails. Possibly a saw. And a handyman round the corner who wore a grubbily white apron, a peaked cap and a pencil stub behind his ear.

He was the bloke who knew arcane stuff about coach screws and cabinet hinges and whether it was three of sand and one of cement, or four of cement and three of gravel.

Now do-it-yourself requires a university degree and intricate knowledge of a vast range of gadgetry that is designed to make screws, glue, shelves, measurements and brains redundant.

That must be why you can never find anyone to ask. There are no longer blokes round the corner with peaked caps and stubs of pencil. Especially if you’re in the hardware store I go to.

Is it a universal law of nature that the staff in hardware stores are always six aisles away and deep in conversation with someone about how long it will take the paint to dry? They might even be experimenting with the answer!

There are all kinds of positive spin-offs to getting a man in. It gives you time to go fishing, for a start.

It also gives you someone to blame when the stairs squeak or the shelf falls off the wall.

Perhaps your experience is different to mine. Perhaps you can stand back and admire your handiwork with pride. Invite people over to talk about the new deck. Maybe even stand on it.

When they came and stood on mine I was too nervous to talk in case they fell through.

It’s hard to have a positive attitude towards home renovations when you spend six hours rendering a wall and seven minutes watching it slide off again. Or when you measure the guttering six times before you cut it to length – and still get it wrong.

If you do-it-yourself not only will your self-esteem be destroyed but your wife will sniff and say: “We should have got a man in.”

If she places the stress on ‘got’ that’s not too bad. If she places it on ‘man’ it’s probably time to do the degree course in home renovations.