Friday, December 09, 2005

Chimney o' Doom

Chimney o' Doom

I hate DIY.

No. I hate DIY with a passion.

I will take pride in the end result, but it is the process of actually arriving there I cannot stand.

The fact is this: inanimate objects, especially pieces of wood, screws, fixings, saws and blunt instruments hate me with a passion and will do anything in their power to inflict injury and humiliation on my person. DIY, then, is a one-way ticket to woe, and boy, does it make me angry.

I cannot do any DIY without raging like a lunatic at the work I'm doing. The work responds in kind by making the job as difficult as possible; and thus the vicious circle continues until I am in my own little pit of hell, surrounded by discarded tools and smashed pieces of wood.

Of course, doing any work where there are spectators will just make things worse. The last thing I want to hear when the pieces don't quite fit together is a helpful "Have you remembered to cut out the little notch?"

"Yessssssssssssssss...." I will reply, sounding like a gas leak.

Last week, for this is recent history, Mrs Duck asked me to block the old fireplace in the dining room to stop soot, weather and dead things from falling down and making a mess of our lovely kitchen-diner.

This story's inevitable conclusion

It looked so easy. All I had to do was remove the old, ill-fitting block, measure up and fit a new one. Twenty minutes' work, tops.

Three hours later...

Everybody else decided to "leave Mr Grumpy at it" and went shopping.

Actually sitting in the fireplace, halfway up the chimney, shouting and swearing at the fact my carefully crafted piece of work didn't quite fit the not-quite square hole. Worse, it had gone up the chimney, got wedged, and was steadfastly refusing to come out again and get the sandpapering of its life.

Revenge! That's the thing!

"Come out you bas-TAAAAARD!"

I hammered at it with the first thing that came to hand. A wild swing with a rubber mallet, connecting with something unexpectedly solid.

It bounced back and hit me in the head. If there was a sound effect for this particular set of actions, it would have gone "BAAAAAARRRRN....SPANGGGGG!"

It hurt. It hurt a lot.

"FUCKING HEEEEEELLLLLL!" I screamed, and hit out at my work again, much, much harder.

That did the trick, and my carefully mutilated piece of plywood came unstuck and dropped neatly onto my head, pointy bit first.

I didn't get a chance to swear and curse at this particular piece of mixed fortune, for there were other forces at work. Dark, dark forces.

My second manly blow of the mallet had somehow dislodged something further up the chimney, and gravity was about to do its evil evil work.

I drew breath to scream and shout in pain and annoyance, when it hit me. About half a ton of sixty-year-old soot landed on my head.

Half a ton of soot, birds' nest, sand, dead things, living things, bits of chimney, and more soot. My world went black.

Not far away, there is a click and a muffled thump, as Mrs Duck returned from the shops with her parents.

"Are you finished yet?" she called from the hall.


"Let's have a look, and then you can make a nice cup of oh..."


I hate DIY.

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