Back in the day, I used to be a man about (London) town. Snake Hips Allen and myself used to go to the opening of the envelope as long as there was the vague promise of a free beer and a couple of lukewarm canapes. And even if there wasn’t, we could generally be persuaded to pitch up anyway. Admittedly his then-girlfriend would generally turn up half way through proceedings and drag him back home with his tail between his legs, but that just meant more canapes for me.
After a few years, the sheer effort of socialising got to us both, and we independently hung up our party boots. Sure, I’ve had the occasional lapse since then, and Snake Hips has now resumed his antics with a move to San Francisco. But long before my move to the US, I’d happily settled for a quiet life of good food, fine wine and the company of friends.
That said, I’ve never been the most practical of people. I’ve stripped down and restored the odd piece of furniture, and put up the occasional shelf or two, but on the whole it’s fair to say that if friends have needed a bit of manual work done then I’ve not generally been their first port of call.
Getting married to The Special One has changed all that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty dreadful at the whole DIY malarkey, but I now I enter into it with the enthusiasm of a child that’s been given a hammer and told to batter the hell out of anything that moves. I walk into hardware stores with the supreme confidence of a man who knows what he’s doing. The effect is somewhat diminished by the fact that I have to beg for help about three minutes later, but for those three minutes I feel pretty damn good I can tell you.
My new found, ahem, ‘ruggedness’ reached its apotheosis this weekend, when I found myself on top of a barn in upstate New York, helping to construct a new roof. With a drill in hand and an electric saw by my side, I barely recognised myself. Even the fact that I got bitten by a mosquito on the middle of my forehead, and now resemble a latter-day unicorn, couldn’t ruin my sense of achievement.
Please don’t be suprised if I take up with the Amish over the coming years.