Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why DIY is dying

Apparently DIY (home improvement, as opposed to masturbation) is on the decline in this country. I have to say that although DIY was one of the things that made this country unique, its decline is no cause for sadness. I think we’ve always seen the European preference for getting a skilled tradesman in to do a job as being terribly decadent and lazy. Traditionally, us plucky Brits have preferred to masochistically maim ourselves and partially demolish our homes whilst trying to improve them.

There are a number of reasons for the decline. Possibly the most obvious is that there are now many comparatively cheap Eastern European builders, plumbers and electricians to do the job for us. British builders were, undoubtedly, unreliable, expensive and took the fucking piss. Thank god for EU expansion.

Mind you, I’m sure it won’t be long before these highly motivated Polish super-workers will be corrupted by the working culture here. They’ll put their prices up and see 60 tea-breaks an hour as the normal threshold of productivity.

The other factor is that DIY stores are fucking minging. I had to head down to B&Q in Leyton recently and it was the worst ‘brand experience’ I’ve ever had. Admittedly, Leyton Mills retail park is revolting in itself. I don’t think I’m being snobby when I say the demographic is primarily more ASBO than ABC1. But B&Q is in a league of its own. Surly ignorant staff, massive queues at the tills, merchandise scattered across the depressing cavernous space like the detritus left by Hurricane Katrina. Christ, it’s grim. The worse thing is that I know I’ll have to grudgingly go there again the next time I need something random like a chisel.

Bank Holiday nonsense
The final reason is that Bank Holidays are wasted doing DIY. I know this because I’ve just had a DIY Bank Holiday. The worst aspect was IKEA DIY. This is the pernicious Swedish evolution of the DIY ethic. I spent hours putting up wire curtain rails in the living room, with IKEA screws shearing off and IKEA steel cable piercing my flesh, only to find out we had bought the wrong kind of fucking curtains to go with the stupid contraption. I could have wept. I also think I may have introduced my children to a new lexicon of swear words, blasphemies and profanities.

Gnawed bones
The other DIY delight this weekend was beginning to sort out the garden. You’d think from the state of it that the last tenants were ‘The Hills Have Eyes’-style mutant Hillbillies. Only South African. My son keeps finding gnawed bones (he thinks they’re fossils) and fag butts are scattered liberally throughout the dead flower beds. There are also rusty old razors, snail-slimed socks, bits of electronic devices and the remnants of beer bottles. The perfect playground for my children. I’m going to have LOTS of fun clearing it out. Must head down to B&Q for a rake though…


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