It’s not all swilling Piña colada with bikini wearing starlets you know! Neither is it eating a series of business lunches with high powered literary agents and publishers.
No the great writer is more than just an artist, more than just a craftsman (or craftswoman depending on how you wish to self identify) of words. There are other skills that are also vital important.
So it is that after spending a jolly morning feeding sheep in the snow and the rain I ended up being called upon to fit a door handle. Now the door in question is vital for the warmth and wellbeing of those working in the kitchen. When it holds the door closed properly, the kitchen remains warm. There are no icy draughts from the ‘utility room’ where freezers and fridges dwell, wood for the fire huddles close to the Wellingtons to avoid the sodden waterproofs dripping promiscuously over them.
The previous door handle had ‘come apart in my hand’. I closed the door and was left holding a door handle. To be fair it had lasted about thirty-five years, but we needed another. So I went out and bought another. Or rather I bought set which has two handles, their plates and the spindle. Now was my chance to earn eternal gratitude, or at least a word of thanks, from she who graces my ever so humble abode.
So I set to work. The plastic packaging was a doddle, the bits were soon spread over the kitchen table (said gracer of my humble abode being absent for the day) and I immediately removed the old handles and face plates. Leaving the old mortice lock in place, I put on the new handles and faceplates.
Now about the handles; a lot of thought had gone into the handles. She who knows these things pointed out that a lot of handles turn up at the end. These are uncomfortable, and she wanted handles that turned down. Hence I acquired the only set of downward turning handles the trade counter had available.
Now with plates in place, all I had to do was to screw them to the door and the job was done.
Except it wasn’t because these didn’t have screws, it was ‘bolt through.’
Now bolts and nuts have hexagonal ends for a reason. It’s a lot easier to get a grip with a spanner and get them tight. These abominations had a screw head at one end, and the ‘nut’ is a cylinder with a screw head for the other. When fastened and flush it looks like it’s screwed from each side.
But the cylinder ‘nut’ has a blocked end; it has to, to take the slot for the screwdriver. This means that if the bolt is too long, you end up with the ‘nut’ as tightly fastened as you can get it, and the handle plate still wafts gently in the breeze.
So first I have to drill the door (do it from each side and waggle the drill bit about so the bolt is easier to push through.) Then push through the bolt. Discover it’s too long. Guess how much needs cutting off. Then it’s out to the farm workshop, (dashing through the rain) stick it in the vice, hacksaw the appropriate amount off, take off the ‘swarf’ with the bench grinder so that the thread can bite, and voila! Robert’s your Father’s sister’s live in lover!
Only of course it helps to have a small modelling file to hand just to open up the end of the thread. And then you find you haven’t quite cut the first one short enough so you have to do it again. Still it’s easier to cut another bit off than have to clag a bit back on because the bolt is too short.
Still the job is done. Of course the plate is a different size and shape to its predecessor and thirty-five years of wear and paint lie revealed where the plate doesn’t cover. But still, it works and whoever changes it next can make sure they get a larger handle plate.
And now, having awarded myself another cup of coffee and a chocolate mini-roll (no names, my agent has not yet decided which of the companies clamouring for my endorsement is offering the best deal) I sit at ease near the fire I laboured over this morning. Or at least I will until the next job leaps up and down and attracts my attention.
But still, what are my labours compared to yours. You have had a tough day and deserve a reward. Go on, treat yourself. Buy yourself that copy of Tomb-yard Follies you’ve been waiting for.
Because you’re worth it!