It’s A Funny Old World
‘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