Sunday, 16 September 2018

Price of a Happy Home

I was standing at the bar when Mary, (not her real name), came staggering in under a ton of IKEA bags.

"Some light shopping," I joked as she laid her load by the bar.

"I need a brandy or a Sherpa if you have one."

"A brandy so," I said happily and let the amber liquid flow into the glass.

"I've had the week from hell," she huffed and took a sip from the drink.

"Go on, tell me more," I asked and settled in for her story. I like Mary, she has a dry wit that tickles my funnybone.

She rested her elbows on the counter and began. "The other day I found four floating-shelves down in the Co-Op and knew they'd look great beside the fireplace. When I got home, John (not his name either) hit the roof when he saw the price of them. That much? For a bit of timber and a few screws? It's daylight robbery! he said. Nothing would do him but to take the shelves back."

"Why didn't you put your foot down and say you wanted them?" I asked, polishing a glass to seem industrious.

"You know what John's like. Life wouldn't be worth living if I did that. Anyway, an hour later he lands back home with a plank of timber, a box of screws, a box of wall plugs and some brackets. He said he got it all for half the price of the shelves, not that I believe him. He starts measuring and I just knew in my bones that it was going to be a disaster. Before long he was hacking up the timber with a rusty old hand-saw. Now, John couldn't could cut a straight line if his life depended on it. Sure enough the ends were all cockeyed. So he cuts off another bit, then a bit more and before he's finished the things are too short. You should've heard the language out of him, it would make a sailor blush."

"Now that does sound like John," I agreed. "Did he give up?"

"Like heck he did. Back down the Co-Op he went and this time he came back with more timber and a bench saw! Flipping thing cost nearly two hundred quid but he said it was good value because he'd use it again. Anyway this time the shelves were cut and the edges were straight. He marked up the walls and drilled holes for the brackets. In fairness, they looked grand when he had them up."

"Job done," I said with a smile and gave the bar around her glass a wipe.

"Not even close. An hour later I looked up and saw the shelves were...drooping."


"Yes, the brackets he'd gotten weren't strong enough. The whole lot had to come back down and he was off to the Co-Op again. This time he came back with huge ugly iron triangles. He was in such a mood by now that he didn't even bother measuring again. He just guessed where the holes should go and drilled. He was like a dog. I couldn't tell him they were all crooked or that there were holes all over the wall, he would have exploded. They are up a week now and stuff keeps sliding off whenever someone slams a door. John won't even look at them, its like he's pretending they don't exist."

"Oh God, I can see why you need a brandy. What are you going to do about them?" I asked.

"Ah, they wont last long. I've been prying them off the wall a bit at the time. They'll fall down any day soon," laughed Mary and took another sip of her brandy.

"Is that why he let you go mad with the credit card," I asked nodding at the bags on the ground.

"Yes, and no," she said cryptically.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I wanted some stuff for the bathroom so I made a big list of materials waited until the match was due to start then handed him the list and suggested he pop down the Co-Op for it. Well, he took one look at the list and said, This lot will cost a fortune, you'd get if for half the price in that IKEA place," and like that, I was free to go shopping while he watched the match.

"Mary, that's positively Machiavellian!"

"Would you get lost with your big words," she said and she picked up her bags to leave. Before she did she gave me a wink and said, "I'll tell you this much, there's more than one way to skin a cat."

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