Me, Myself and DIY

Violet columnist Will Hall tries his hand at DIY, but decides a life of home improvement is not for him

Will Hall

A father teaches his son the tricks of the tradeYouTube: homebaseuk

“Rail end bracket. That’s what you’re looking for. Aisle 6,” said Norman.

I do not like Homebase, I thought to myself, as I trudged past architraves and hosepipes.

Before I continue, a bit of background: it was a hot summer weekend in July, the kind of weekend where it seems, from your newsfeed, that the whole world is having a barbecue or travelling in Bali. But not me, I was learning how to do DIY. Y being the operative letter.

I am resolutely anti-DIY. Well, not anti-DIY per se, just when the “yourself” is me. As soon as I was old enough to realise you could get someone in, that’s what I decided I’d do. I appreciate that this is financially totally unviable, and that a good proportion of my future earnings will have to be put aside for this purpose, but frankly, if not having bedrooms 2 and 3 means I don’t have to repair the lights in 1, so be it. We’ll just have fewer kids, darling (pending).

The snag in the plan being that I am clinically unable to save money (it’s a real thing. Google it) and as such have been merrily spending my overdraft on what my parents call “luxuries” and what I call “jumpers”. These, and other essential clothes, needed somewhere to hang when not on my body, and my wardrobe quickly became full.

It was suggested I got rid of them, but as I pointed out, it wasn’t that I didn’t wear them, it was that I’d simply not yet found an occasion which called for a neon-green and yellow cable knit. But come the day I got the invitation to that dress-as-a-tennis-ball-from-the-80s themed party/wedding/funeral, I’d be laughing (celebrating/mourning – delete where appropriate). “What would you do?”, I smugly asked my parents. “Not go.”

Double rail goalsInstagram: kyguy0803

Various temporary solutions were tried – boxes (impractical), bin bags (eyesore), eventually a temporary clothes rail propped up against my bed, which buckled spectacularly in the middle of the night under the weight of my addiction, drowning me in a sea of cotton and regret.

This was deemed the straw that broke the camel’s rack (here all week guys), and it was decided that I needed to install a second railing in my existing wardrobe so I could double up space. And my father, as fathers do, saw this as a learning opportunity: I was going to put the rail in myself (with his help. Let’s be realistic).

My dad told me I might enjoy it, and might even – get this – get a sense of pride from it. “I doubt that!” I thought, hammily and aloud. (You can see where this is going.)

And so it was that I found myself in Homebase, talking to Norman about the difference between twin-slot and rail end brackets, and realising that doing-it-yourself wasn’t doing-it-for-me.

I then needed to choose a pole which was helpfully located fourteen miles away, in the western region of Homebase-land, the place that’ll fix your shelf but break your heart.

“Visitors were marched upstairs on arrival and given guided tours of the masterpiece”

I found Norman again, who was now restocking a selection of floral rugs (it’s a broad church): “Which one do you want?” he implored for the fifth time, pointing at two identical poles. “I have no idea.” He asked me whether I’d prefer brushed chrome or satin steel – “gun to your head” seemed by far the most tempting option.

Then he started saying random words at me, I think he was checking whether I needed any more tools – “Spanner? Hacksaw? Stanley knife?”. Either that, or he was the world’s most accommodating murderer. “Spirit level?” he asked. “Low,” I replied.

Eventually, I made it home, carrying my spoils like a hero returning from war, only with a hefty receipt. And over the next hour (okay, hours. Okay, week) I set to work. Words like “screw bit”, and “washer”, and “which end is the handle, Dad?” became my new language. I toiled in my room. I was like a crime-fighting superhero, except instead of wearing a cape I was going to hang it up.

And then, at last, it was done. And as I started to hang up my clothes, I felt this strange sensation wash over me. I kept looking at the pole (satin steel, since you ask) and prodding it, then looking down at the tools on the floor, then back at the pole again. I kept putting hangers on it, then taking them off, then putting them back on. I felt like God must have done after he’d created the world in seven days (well, eight in my case). I marvelled at my handiwork.


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In the days that followed, all my friends were forced to sit through me explaining how I lined up the washer, the bracket, and the screw, before single-handedly drilling it in. Visitors were marched upstairs on arrival and given guided tours of the masterpiece, for a small fee they could place a hanger on it and see how it didn’t even break. One Jehovah’s Witness said it had made him think harder about his own wardrobe.

I looked around my room. I was unstoppable now. My eye was drawn to other, previously-neglected jobs. The loose doorknob, the uneven chair leg, the unhung mirror. I told my father I was going to repair them all, all he needed to do was hand me a hammer and some countersunk screws and I- What’s that? We’ve run out of screws? ‘It’s fine, I can take you to H–’

On reflection, I thought, I’ll get someone in