There’s a bit of renovation going on in my new home, with tools, nails, pieces of plastic and wood strewn across kitchen worktops and along the floor.
I’ve been assured by the in-house handyman that said alien objects will be useful, if not now, eventually. My sceptical self doubts this, however, as my eye glances over the dubious objects of unfathomable purpose.
DIY is a world that I’ve never even considered. It’s one that I knew existed on some level, like a forgotten door to Narnia, but one I never had a reason or inclination to explore. As such my knowledge of matters pertaining to specific supplies for a particular job or the size of screwdriver needed for which material is scant, if not non-existent.
All I know is that there is a distinct disregard for the beautiful bare walls in the house. The never-ending drone of the drill reverberates throughout the building as holes of all sizes are punched into walls everywhere. It’s a trypophobic nightmare. The dust is mountainous and the new puppy keeps finding his way into piles of it and stamping his little paw prints all over the carpet. He’s also escaped death once or twice as my other half recklessly saws into slabs of wood with the curious pup sniffing around, the metallic teeth of the saw missing his nose by millimetres with each shaft.
It’s not that I find the whole DIY thing boring, difficult or pointless. On the contrary I believe there is a deep therapeutic effect that comes from working with your hands, an engrossing, absorbing feeling, a connection with the natural state of humanity that gives us the motivation and imagination to craft something new.
When I was growing up, our household did nothing of the sort. We would get someone else to do it. The notion of doing odd jobs around the house oneself was anathema to my mother and my three sisters and we watched with curiosity when the young men would come and paint or fix a light switch, without any realisation that we had the capability to do these activities ourselves. It could have been very different had a member of our household taken an interest in it.
My partner has been showing me the ropes, quite literally, he’s got his eyes on a new rope banister, as well as the labyrinthine world of paints and the best types of floors. He’s trying to instill in me an interest, but I think the damage is done.
Give me a paint brush and some paint and I could create an artwork to brighten up the most boring of walls. But give me a drill or a piece of wood and I’d be lost.
I’m hoping my paintings will cover the worst of the damage when we get them mounted, and he’ll carry on with his work, which I must admit is excellent when completed.
I guess the feeling of creating something with our own hands gives a sense of satisfaction, of self-sufficiency, the belief that if the apocalypse were to finally come, we might last a bit longer than the neighbour. The transferable skills from making a utility cupboard could help save lives later when the zombies come or when climate change finally gets us.
My interest in DIY has been roused but I don’t think I’ll be lifting the drill just yet. Everyone needs to find their own creative outlet to get this same feeling I’ve been talking about; call it a justification of existence. Mine is writing and painting, although I’ve been a bit slack of late because of my training in the art of DIY.
I’ll let him carry on and get his fill. I’ll stick with my paint.
Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.