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A few weeks back my husbands usual boat crew were off doing a fishing course, as were a number of the younger men from the village. This was to enable them to become card carrying fishermen. As so many were on the course, there was no one spare to help crew the boat.
The sea was too rough for him to feel happy taking me out, so much to his disgust, he was  stuck at home, trying to keep out of my way as I had a hole load of jobs I needed him to help with or do. I was desperate to finish the building work that started on the house, what feels like years but is actually about 9 months ago .
In July I went to London to visit my family. I asked Neu (my husband) if he could finish painting what had been our bedroom and was now the sitting room. I had done one wall white but didn’t have time to finish it. When I got back from London, he had painted the rest of the room as high as he could reach and painted around a shelf and the things lined up on the floor below, hopeless.
As I said to my friend, Neu grew up in a house that didn’t even have finished walls, expecting him to understand my design criteria is probably a bit much but really! My friend said “don’t ask a short man to get something off a high shelf. ” She also said she thought it very funny.
We had some friends  coming to stay, I said I thought we should put the door up for the room that they would  be staying in. Neu said we should ask the builder, I said I thought if he asked his friend (a guy who usually worked with the builder) between us we should be able to get the job done.
Well talk about the blind leading the blind; It took Neu two days to construct the door frame, this included the afternoon sulk that he went into when it didn’t go immediately to plan (here they mount the door in the frame on the floor, then nail batons in place to hold everything together, while they put it in place and cement the frame into the wall space).
Having got the frame sorted, his mate came over  to help with the putting in and cementing.
First they had to knock out the bricks around the door space, this is because the frame is a little wider than the space, just how they do things here.
Brick dust everywhere again. As they wrestled the door frame in place, I couldn’t help humming the tune to the Bernard Cribbins (I think) song “Right said Fred, both of us together.”  In which a house is demolished in an effort to remove a piano. Our day continued in that vein, the hole getting ever bigger and the door stubbornly refusing to go in the space.
One side of the door frame was longer than the other, I had suggested cutting it off to make it even but was told that it would be fine, they would just sink it into the floor, talk about making life difficult. The door frame was now in the hole on one side but out of it on the other. Neu told me to pull the baton on the bottom of the door, I did and IT CAME OFF IN ME HAND! I fell about laughing, our friend was laughing, although he couldn’t see what had happened as he was on the other side of the door, must have been the stream of expletives that were pouring forth from his Lord ship.
We got both sides of the frame in their holes but now one side was lower down than the other, the door had slipped in the frame and now had a two inch gap at the top on one side. After a lot of messing about, lifting, swearing and generally arsing about, the door looked ok (if you didn’t look to carefully or measure anything) but now I realised that the remaining baton couldn’t come off,it was wedged in the wall. More pushing and yanking and the door was pushed out again. Now Neu used brute force to pull the baton off, whacking his hand off the wall in the process, more laughter from me and our mate, Neu doing his pursed lip look.
Without any batons holding the door frame together, it was a bit like trying to put very wet wallpaper in place, it kept folding and doing all sorts, but not what we wanted. I kept thinking how I’d known that doors are difficult things to hang but hadn’t wanted to say anything because I knew that if I did, Neu would refuse to try.
Now he was saying maybe the builder could come over on Sunday. I didn’t want to admit defeat. Then the door suddenly shot in the gap and seemed to be fine, no one was 100%  sure it would  open and close again  but after cementing it in we had to wait till the next day to find out.
I was pleased to discover that the door did open, well more or less. I had to take it off it’s hinges and shave a bit off the bottom, that was because the concrete floor slopes rather dramatically, the door opened but then got wedged on the floor. It still wont open fully but if I was to shave enough of the door, when it was shut it would have a two inch gap underneath. It opens enough.
Neu was pleased with our achievement, especially when he told the builder. He expected to be laughed at over the time it took, but the builder told him in words to the effect of, “it matters not how long it took, but that you tried and succeeded.” Very profound and I couldn’t agree more.
©Claire Pattison Valente 2008
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