I hate DIY. Hate it. It’s not just that I’m shit at it, it’s also that I have absolutely no interest in practicing it, it takes all day (carrying on way beyond the moment you realise you’re incredibly bored and want it to end), it always reveals two more jobs that need doing, it doesn’t seem to look any better when you’re finished and then… it takes about as long to tidy up as it did to do the work in the first place.
So when Mrs Cake raised the idea of decorating our bedroom last weekend, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy but I do realise that sometimes these things need doing. I want to be better, I really do. I just have to try really, really hard… and think of some way to make the whole thing more appealing.
“How about we make it fun?” I said, “Maybe by getting beers in and drinking all day?”
I didn’t quite expect what happened next.
“Yeah!” said Mrs Cake, “and we could have Baileys* in our coffee in the morning, and make nice sandwiches, then for tea we could get a takeaway!”
And that is what has earned Mrs Cake and I a reputation amongst our friends for making “things” out of things. I don’t know; we’re just trying to make life more fun. Cos if life isn’t fun… what is it? What’s it for?
We went to the big Tesco on Friday night to get supplies – sandwich fixings, bottled ales for Mrs Cake, Holsten Pils for me and a half bottle of Tesco’s standard blended scotch for a feature that will be coming up an indeterminate amount of time in the future... then it was back home to relax with pizza, beers, grappa and the opening of the Ardbeg 10 (again, more later).
On to Saturday morning. We had the Baileys* in our coffees, prepared the bedroom, grabbed a beer and made a start. Result? The day went relatively smoothly. Sure, there were minor meltdowns like when I got paint on Mrs Cake’s digital radio, and when Mrs Cake was trying to make me throw out things that I haven’t gotten around to using yet (just because I can’t juggle with six balls, it doesn’t mean I only need three of them… one day I might find the time and inclination to practice), but I think some of the stress was brought on by the magnitude of the job ahead of us. The alcohol probably didn’t help out too much at first, but as the day wore on and we made progress, it really helped. The work keeps you busy enough to remain fairly sober, but the alcohol gives you that burst of energy to keep going – and you can use it in a carrot and stick type situation – I’ll just paint the rest of this wall, then have a big swig of beer. Nor does drinking as you go lessen the satisfaction of having a beer at the end because the beer at the end still celebrates finishing the job.
We did the same on Sunday also, culminating with three hours trying to put an Ikea chest of drawers together, but we just powered through – except the part where Mrs Cake had a minor meltdown because we managed to break a bit off. We fixed it with glue though.
Clearly alcohol may not be suited to all kinds of DIY – such as things that require accuracy and sharp or powerful tools – but you might still want to give it a try. There was one moment before lunch where I was struggling to paint the ceiling because I had to be standing up a ladder, looking upwards and manoeuvring a roller back and forth, under the influence, but it didn’t turn out to be too much of a problem, and I took it as a cue to get some food.
Three things to remember then, before I leave you. First, make sure you get all the supplies in that you are likely to need ahead of time. You don’t want to find that you need to make a trip to B&Q, which is a drive away, when you’re already a few pints down – or even more than one pint down really.
Second, don’t underestimate the importance of well-timed food.
Finally, drinking and decorating is merely a case of offsetting something unpleasant with something pleasant – yin and yang; that’s the foundation of the whole universe. It is alco-thusiasm not alcoholism. Alcohol can be your friend, just be responsible and treat it with respect.
And with those wise words, I’ll leave you for another week.
*Carolan’s on this occasion