I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Disasters averted

On giving up DIY (Fr. bricolage)

● No more haggled screw-heads.
● No more re-assemblies with two washers and a spline left over.
● No more deviating saw-cuts.
● No more pop-ups starting "Microsoft warns the user..."
● No more U-shaped nails.
● No more suddenly splitting wooden battens.
● No more waiting for repaired plumbing to leak.
● No more gradually widening holes in plasterboard stud walls.
● No more losing the chuck key.
● No more paint blobs on the carpet.
● No more partially erased paint blobs on the carpet.
● No more visits to carpet shops.
● No more visits to the dump with discarded carpet.
● No more lengthy post-mortems about how paint got on to the carpet in the first place.
● No more failures of no-longer-available light bulbs.
● No more holes dug slightly smaller than the sapling's root ball.
● No more accidentally severed hedge-trimmer cables.
● No more futile tours of the wallpaper department.
● No more head down the WC.
● No more danger from the angle grinder.
● No more drilling in the wrong place.
● No more unwonted pride in the unused case of drill bits.
● No more self-disconnecting pairs of wires to the ring-main socket

Progress report: Opening Bars. A late-life adventure. Roderick Robinson. 25,070 words.
Sample extract: It’s a truism but a musical score looks daunting at first sight and becomes more daunting when its purpose is explained. Namely that items of instruction have been gathered into vertical strips representing set periods of time, that each strip must be read as if it contained just one instruction not several, and then – get this! – turned into action with all the items of instruction simultaneously and miraculously combined. Didn’t one US president say another had difficulty chewing gum and walking? How about chewing gum, walking, blowing one’s nose and directing someone to Trafalgar Square in a foreign language?


  1. I recognise quite a few of the disasters on your DIY list but I'll never give up DIY, even though climbing up ladders and crawling under things ain't as easy as it used to be. Nevertheless I like it. Anyway making art is also DIY and disasters can never be entirely avoided.

  2. Nathalie: Best of luck, stay whole. I did consider self-harm as an alternative, for we all need a little masochism in our lives. Gave up the idea because I seemed to lack anything sharp. Of course, I could finally read Lord Of The Rings but for the moment I regard that as the extreme end of the masochism scale.

  3. You seem to have led an "interesting" life in DIY, RR. Chinese proverb, "May you live in interesting times". I still do the odd job, but much of the time I consider if it will be really essential. Then I follow my new creed of "ICBA" - I can't be arsed - and leave it alone. It is surprisingly relaxing and gives me time to re-read LoTR, the original fantasy classic written by an academic who understood and loved ancient languages and mythologys.

    Since I also ride motorcycles I guess I belong to your "extreme end of the masochism scale".

  4. Avus: These experiences stretch back many years, to when we were genteelly starving to death in Stoke Newington (as a treat: a bottle of Tizer on Sunday evenings) and when there was no alternative but DIY. Once you've been forced into some unwanted course of action, discarding that action becomes a delightful expression of personal freedom - the celebration of "not having to do it".

    A related but slightly different note. In the mid-90s, during my first two years of retirement, as I waited for VR to join me in retirement, I occupied myself with freelance journalism, making a steady £1000 a month. Even though I enjoy writing this was drudgery. On moving to Hereford I discovered I could comfortably get along without this cash, threw away my contacts book, and started writing purely for myself. Novels, of course, the blog, then the supreme indulgence of the sonnet.

    These days I can identify the need for a ring-main extension and reach for the telephone rather than my toolbox. Believe me, dishonest toil (which is how most people would characterise writing fiction) beats honest toil every time; for one thing you don't have to get down on your decrepit knees.

    In a word: bliss.

  5. And try to get up again..............

  6. I may print and frame that list, when we move to a brand new house with a ten year guarantee and as little garden as possible, I'm hoping, and any guilty perceived urge to get outside can be satisfied a nice walk somewhere pretty, preferably with a pub at the end of it, and the 'projects to do' list amounts to learning cable knitting. And reading, though maybe not LOTR again, though I do rather like it.

  7. Lucy: Once I saw the LOTR world divided up this way: On the No side, me; On the Yes side, billions (including VR).

    My excuse being I didn't go in for mythical, voodooish, religiose-ish, health food-esque stories with cumbersomely constructed names no matter how academically qualified the author. I was about to add I didn't do Magical Realism either until I remembered I'd read Midnight's Children (and liked it) without realising the risks I'd taken and how the author would turn out.

    Then I found myself in the position of admitting that - after a struggle lasting decades - I'd finally given into Der Ring Des Nibelungen. What could be more myth-ridden, more dragon-prone, more other-worldly?

    Well, there is the music. And a feeling that most of the detractors are less concerned about RW's views (Who reads his prose?) and more about the length of his operas. Faint Bums I call them. Elitism still has its attractions.

    Re. the list. It doesn't need to be that long. The guideline (as one gets older) is: avoid houses "with character" and continue reading longish unfashionable books, listening to Mahler, wrestling with Three-Toque recipes from Raymond Blanc's cookbook, and devoting oneself to long and inconclusive periods of meditation. Houses should contain not embrace.

  8. I'm definitely on the No side of LOTR. So there is something we see eye to eye with after all!

  9. I rarely remember a book about which I have had such violent arguments. Nobody seems to have a moderate opinion; either, like myself, people find it a masterpiece of its genre or they cannot abide it, and among the hostile there are some, I must confess, for whose judgement I have great respect. --Auden, who thought LOTR a masterpiece

  10. Nathalie: I suppose we should cherish that fact. I realise I am often seen - at best! - as a contrarian, possibly because I'm an auto-didact. Almost everyone who comments on Tone Deaf is better-educated than I am. I emerged on to the job market in 1951, aged 15 years and 51 weeks, virtually untouched by formal education and have subsequently - in the tradition of picaresque novels - "made my own way". This sounds like boasting (in a left-handed manner) but it isn't. Uneducated I was, but not devoid of childish prejudices, many of which have proved ineradicable.

    Marly: I fear it's worse than that; it's the genre itself I can't get on with. I realise this may put me beyond the pale. You are a generous-hearted person I know, try and think of me as a twentieth-century equivalent of the Noble Savage who gets excited about artefacts held together by nuts and bolts.