For me the acronym DIY conjures up visions of Frank Spencer, gurning his best Frank Spencer gurn, scurrying away from smoking rubble while Dave the barman from Minder shakes his fist and a piccolo solo plays.
You see, I have a dripping tap. I should be able to fix something like this without invoking the spirit of Mario, but so far I’ve avoided getting my hands too dirty in household maintenance. This is what you get for renting all your life. No, not that kind of renting.
Right, what do I do? My first thought: I suppose I need ingredients, like tools and some flavour of washer. I inspect my drawer of things – mainly packs of post-it notes, elastic bands, and flotsam and jetsam hoarded from random packaging, and all of only marginal use when repairing a dripping tap. It’s true that one section of the drawer is devoted to assorted screwdrivers, but that’s it; I feel uneasy that I haven’t yet accumulated multicoloured plastic cabinets brim-full of categorised pointy things in a dedicated room for my handyman antics. I should, at the very least, own a spanner.
OK. I suppose I should go to a hardware store. Hmm. Do they even exist outside of The Two Ronnies? No, I should not like four candles, I should very much prefer two washers. And a spanner. Or do I have to buy a specific tool, some kind of tap delouser the knowledge of which was supposed to osmose magically into my head during my difficult teenage years?
I google dripping taps. Ah, there are videos narrated by bored women. Yes, I should turn off the water, I can probably do that: one of the 18,000 cupboard-based taps I seem to have is undoubtedly the correct one. I can even label it with a post-it note, thus justifying the existence of my entire drawer of things.
However, just in case, I practise my Oliver Hardy expression: the one he does when he looks down the end of a hose and Stan turns the tap on, causing Ollie’s bowler to spin twenty yards into a 1930s pram which plummets down some steps into a 1930s eight-lane freeway where James Finlayson narrowly avoids hitting it by driving into a 1930s lake and going d’oooh!
Ever the optimist I can see where it’ll all go wrong. Every time the bored woman on the video says “simply”, that’s where it’ll go wrong. “Simply pop the top of the tap off to access the screw.” Translation: “Simply slice the tip of your index finger off with a slip of your tap delouser and bleed vigorously into the handy sink below.”
Actually, you know, maybe I’ll just move. Yes, that’s a better idea. Like Bruce Banner leaving town after his inner green has had a bit of a barney with the locals. WHY NOT SINK HAVE MIXER? HULK BURN FREEZE BURN FREEZE WITH TWO TAP. HULK SMASH! Taxi! Cue doleful music!
No, it has to be done. I visit Nasreen Dar, Purveyors of All Known Tat, wherein I find two different types of washer. More lore passed from generation to generation through secret rituals I skipped while hacking Jet Set Willy. I buy some black, rubbery items labelled “tap washers.” Disturbingly they also have a size. Wait… so I’m supposed to take my tap apart and measure the size of the poorly washer first? Is this some kind of sick joke? Isn’t there any API documentation I can skim?
This is all doomed. Now the tap has stopped dripping – undoubtedly an ominous sign. I’ll just ignore it I think, yes, that’s best. Hmm. I can hear music. Sounds a bit like a piccolo.
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Did you buy a house or are you still renting?