It’s A Funny Old World

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Real Life -

‘How hard can it be to turn our beau­ti­fully man­i­cured hands

to the men’s jobs?’

My friend, Jayne, aged

64, should have her own DIY tele­vi­sion show. She’s amaz­ing. What prompts me to tell you about her is when she called me the other day, be­side her­self with ex­cite­ment, to talk about her next shop­ping trip.

A de­signer wardrobe for next sea­son? The treat of a new hand­bag? A hol­i­day? Not at all. ‘I’m off to get the new Bosch mul­ti­tool!’ she shrieked, all aquiver. I tried to sound en­thu­si­as­tic as she went into great de­tail about its many de­lights…

Jayne is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of the older, di­vorced woman who sim­ply does NOT need to get a man in. She mends all kinds of things, can put up shelves (even ‘float­ing’ ones), is a dab hand at self-assem­bly, can hang wall­pa­per, fits blinds, does electrics and is a fan­tas­tic gar­dener.

When I fi­nally came out of an un­happy mar­riage, I was only wor­ried about two things – money, of course, and who was go­ing to do all the ‘men’s jobs’. Jayne saves lots of money with her su­perb skills, and never needs to rely on a man. She wouldn’t have any dif­fi­culty at­tract­ing male as­sis­tance, but she’s de­ter­mined to Do It Her­self.

Thanks to her shin­ing ex­am­ple, I’ve started to give ‘DIH’ a go my­self. To my daugh­ter’s, and my own, as­ton­ish­ment, I man­aged to put a neck­lace holder up on her bed­room wall. It in­volved a ham­mer, nails, tape mea­sure and even a pen­cil be­hind my ear!

Now, as it turned out, it was an eas­ier job than I’d thought it would be. I think that, purely be­cause I was will­ing to have a go, it sud­denly seemed pos­si­ble. In the past, I’d have au­to­mat­i­cally la­belled it a man’s job. Nonethe­less, Francesca and I gave each other a high five and si­mul­ta­ne­ously shrieked ‘Girl power!’

Jayne’s first at­tempt was much more am­bi­tious. She ac­tu­ally man­aged to put a new cord in a sash win­dow. Re­spect – that’s a com­pli­cated job!

Just re­cently, she mounted a large tele­vi­sion on her bed­room wall, kindly fit­ted a new loo seat in my bath­room and showed me how to put up a blind.

So, what fur­ther tips does she have in this cen­te­nary of the women’s vote?

‘The in­ter­net is great for find­ing out how to do a job, and you can al­ways ask some­one for ad­vice. Neigh­bours can be help­ful, and some­times you re­ally need a sec­ond pair of hands. Make sure you’ve got the right tools be­cause it will make it a hun­dred times eas­ier. Start with a de­cent set of screw­drivers and a ham­mer.’

My con­fi­dence is grow­ing. The door to my garage was stick­ing, so I gave it a good spray of WD40 from an old can I spot­ted. I don’t know if that was right or not, but it’s worked.

When you think of the tra­di­tional craft skills many women have, how hard can it be to turn our beau­ti­fully man­i­cured hands to the men’s jobs?

Now we have so many male chefs demon­strat­ing their tal­ents on TV, it just has to be time for women to nail the first fe­male DIY pro­gramme.

I rang her to talk about the idea.

‘I’ll call you back,’ she said. ‘I’m just do­ing a spot of plas­ter­ing.’

I was deeply impressed.

‘It’s easy,’ she added breezily.

‘It’s just like ic­ing a cake.’

This week’s colum­nist: Author and agony aunt Caroline Buchanan

My lovely boy, Billy

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