I have two passions. Writing and music. Not necessarily in that order. These are things I do….not the people I care about or am passionate about. I have one thing for which I have no passion….DIY; Do It Yourself handyman stuff (pardon the sexist language). It isn’t that I can’t swing a hammer or use a drill. I just don’t want to. I have no patience for it. It doesn’t interest me. I admire people who can whack a table and chairs together, hang a door, drill holes and put up shelves. Like some bard said, “Work fascinates me. I can sit and watch it for hours.” I like the sentiment.
I am the type who buys one of those put-it-together-yourself packs and inevitably misses a screw or a hinge somewhere along the line, or puts it together backwards and has to do it all over again from the beginning. That drives me crazy. I have been known to blueify the air on such occasions. I like to say I’m a big picture guy. Minutiae are not for me. Besides, the instructions…..when I bother to read them at all….are never clear and leave me more baffled and confused than when I don’t bother with them. Real guys don’t need instructions anyway. I maintain the instructions are the Chinese way of conquering the West. Get us so worked up and enraged that our heads will eventually explode.
So, I leave the DIY to my best friend. She enjoys a good challenge….or did. She says she finds it all a bit much these days. Of course this comes after laying several floors in our old place, painting and wallpapering (she’s very good at it), making and hanging curtains, putting together countless shelving and storage units and much more. I watched her with envy. She has often said she wished her best friend was good at DIY. I keep looking around for him to show up. For a while she was madly in love with Mike Holmes of ‘Holmes on Homes’ fame. A real fan who swooned during umpteen episodes of his TV show. Oh to have such a man about the house. Not me. She actually panics when I have a hammer in my hand.
My DIY resembles a scene from the Three Stooges with one stooge doing all three parts. I hit myself with hammers. Not delightful. I get shocks fom wires, make holes where there shouldn’t be any, get things crooked and don’t seem to be able to make a saw behave. Like Curly, I have fits of frustration when things go awry. Usually I am so cautious because of my foibles, that I take far too long to do any minor job, lose interest and leave a job partially completed. Drives my best friend to distraction.
Things began to change somewhat when we got the boat. Out of necessity. We start small you understand. Most jobs are beyond me at the moment. They require skill. Not a lot of room for error on a narrowboat. We had a guy put in a new central heating system….way beyond me. Another guy put in a new shower. The one we inherited leaked. Best left to the professionals. The water pump went. Calle a marine plumber. We had an Isolation Transformer put in by a marine electrician. It makes sure all the electrical charges in a marina, where boats are in close proximity, don’t eat at the steel hull of the boat. One resident poo-pooed the whole notion, saying it was just a money grab by greedy electronics companies. Her boat sank in this very marina, electrical currents having done their work on her boat.
Eack of these professionals has all the right tools for the job and the training and experience to look after the very technical things that might need attention on a boat. I admire their skills. When they’re done, I give them a copy of my books and tell them that if they ever need to hire someone to do music at an event, I’m your man. And I have all the tools for that trade. But for the moment, I am duty bound to take on boat tasks that I can handle or that I can easily learn. Filling the water tank? A breeze. Starting the fire and keeping it going? No probs. Makng sure the shitter is cleaned and replaced? Not a pretty sight. No sweet perfume. But doable. Check the bilge every week in case water has snuck in somewhere. Done.
The one that has stretched me (in more ways than one) is the engine room. The engine to be precise. Have to keep it tuned up. Have to make sure I run it every so often to keep it functioning properly. This is especially true as we’re moored in the marina for some months. Check the oil, the coolant, the gear box oil and the diesel. Have to keep on top of that. Then there’s the stern tube that has to be tightened every so often to prevent water leaking in through the prop hatch and the prop hatch has to be cleared of debris that gets caught in there. That is quite an intricate job. I have a checklist. It keeps me busy. I feel useful. When your passions are music and writing, you have to have something practical to do.
I’ll keep learning in my dotage. Got to keep trying new things. Got to keep this boat afloat. Can’t keep throwing another thousand on it every time we need something done. But DIY is never going to be my forté. I’m resigned to that. And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t mind. Some guys love to tinker for the hell of it. Not me. Don’t have the right tools anyway….and I’d rather spend my money on more useless things like pints at the pub and guitar pedals and books….but not real books, just Kindle books. It’s a matter of space you see.