Friday, 1 February 2008

The handyman cometh (I hope)

My home’s natural state is one of entropy. Bolts snap, windows shatter, screws and nails fall out, leaks open in the roof, pictures drop from the walls, and for months and months that’s the way things stay.

It’s not that I’m not willing to do the stuff necessary to fix them – I can get a pane of glass measured as well as the next person, or re-hang a picture, or calk a roof – but mainly I don’t have the gizmos necessary for the jobs. I have, in my so-called tool cupboard, a very very large screwdriver and a very very small screwdriver (both hopelessly mismatched to any normal household repair job), a hammer (used mainly for despatching cockroaches, the only living creature I have no compunction about murdering), a jar full of screws and nails unsuitable to any hole probably anywhere in the universe, and (inexplicably) a hermetically sealed package of curtain hooks.

So, for long weeks at a time, my family will work around small inconveniences: a light fitting that has lost its shade and evinces instant blindness when switched on, a door that requires wiring closed when we go out, a piece of heavy-duty plastic package-taped over a cracked window, a tap that necessitates a pair of pliers (borrowed) on constant standby in order to wring the smallest drop of water from it.

Then, one day, I will notice that all around us is chaos, and be moved to let my fingers do the walking through the Valley Handbook – ‘an essential guide for visitors & residents’ (I quote from its cover) to ‘living in the valley’*.

This time, under ‘Handymen’ I found an entry for one FN. There are, if you’re interested, also sections for ‘Burial Services’, ‘Courriers’ (sic), ‘Essential Oils’, ‘Export/Import Agents’, ‘Fencing’ (I got all excited and thought it was with swords, but it’s the other kind), ‘Fish & Chips’, ‘Poison’ (again, exhilaration – could I perhaps get my monthly supply of arsenic there? but alas no), ‘Prisons’, ‘Sewage Obstruction’ (the mind can only boggle), ‘Snake Line’ (not a dancing school, surprisingly) and ‘Watch Repairs’ - never let it be said that all needs aren’t catered for in our little town.

Anyway, I called FN, who agreed to come round for a look later in the day – 5pm? Fine, said I.

At 4.45, driven to near dementia by the unrelenting heat (it reaches over 40 degrees as a matter of course during the first two months of the year here), I leapt into the pool in my clothes. I don’t do this because I’m too impatient to get into my swimsuit or even swim nekkid – it’s because it’s just so endlessly pleasant to sit on the verandah, allowing your clothes to dry on you, and experience real coolth for a blissful 20 minutes or so while they do.

And then someone knocked on the door. I was wearing a white top and a long white skirt, so I was effectively nekkid anyway when I hauled myself out the pool, and quickly grabbed my towel for modesty’s sake. At which point the Wobbly Dog went into an hysterical spasm, snatched the towel out of my hands, and raced down to the bottom of the garden with it, flinging it about in a crazy way. It wasn’t feasible to go after her – I would have tripped on my long, wet, clinging skirt and killed myself – so, holding my clothes away from my body as best I could, I went to let in the early-arriving handyman.

I had no qualms about doing this. Handymen, in my fairly extensive experience, are always one of three types: 1) Excessively fat, with attendant plumber’s bum; 2) excessively hairy, with attendant BO; or 3) excessively short, with attendant aggressive attitude. So what did I care if the handyman had a shuftie of my bra through my wet top or, for that matter, my panties (and, okay, attendant cellulite) through my wet skirt?

Well, shock and horror: standing at my door was a vision of loveliness, a tall, slim person with sparkly blue eyes and a mellow voice (as I discovered when he said, ‘Hello, I’m the handyman,’ and I said, ‘Ak, ugh, eyissee, ooo, well, you’d better come in then’), and wearing a very interesting hat.

He was gracious enough to pretend not to notice that I traipsed around the house holding my skirt out like some ether-frenzied little old Victorian lady, and that every time he turned to ask me a question I dropped my skirt and crossed my arms over my sodden see-through top like an equally ether-frenzied Victorian virgin. He took assiduous notes, nodded in all the right places, made ‘hmm, hmm’ noises when it was necessary, and left telling me he’d phone me in the morning with a quote.

And as he got into his lekker big bakkie outside my house, he turned back and grinned. ‘Enjoy the rest of your swim!’ he called, and I have to admit I closed the door, collapsed on the floor and giggled like a schoolgirl.

He’s coming tomorrow to fix things. I wonder what I should wear?

* On the subject of valley publications, a round-robin email was sent out today by a local swish hotel. Deliciously unproofread by anyone with even a glancing knowledge of English as she is writ, it exhorts potential visitors to pop in because (and again I quote), ‘this is an proper chance to let lose and enjoy the small town welcome, and come prepared as our towns olives and wine tasting will have your tows curling up and leaf you talking about it for ever’. You’ve got to snigger quietly because otherwise you’d pee your pants.

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audrey said...

Ja man, what’s actually up with that ubiquitous hermetically sealed package of curtain hooks, anyway? I have one too, and so do most of my friends. Maybe they aren’t even curtain hooks. I think it’s some kind of plot by the aliens. Those things are going to hatch one day, I’m telling you. We’ll be done for.

meggie said...

Holy Schmoly... what can this mean?
Are the hotels all suddenly controlled by Asians.. who don't speak Engrish or Afrikaans or ...or..

I confess to sniggering about the pool garb.

We have a friend who will only swim naked, in their backyard pool. Her kids are threatened with death if they peep. Imagine her horror when she looked up, to see the neighbours were having the tall palm trees removed by large, half-naked men. No one had told her, & they were clinging like gobsmacked monkeys on the trunks of the palm trees, goggling insanely at her!!
She called for her pipe, she called for her bowl... er no wrong nursery Rhyme. She bellowed for her husband to bring large towels, & she slunk from the pool, mortified. They are now building a taller trellis for creeping vines.