Handyman knows best

We all need a handyman in our lives. I’m not talking about a boyfriend, I’m talking about a friend with access to tools and know-how who is willing to assist with heavy lifting and be available on short notice. A group of us gals share a handyman, and even though we have to put up with his advice (constant negative comments) and reasoning, it’s worth it for the help. He is Welsh, has curly hair and his name is Tom (actually it’s Tim, but I told him I’d change it for this column.)

We met him in Fidel Murphy’s Pub, and perhaps the first offer of a hand came when he overheard two of us discussing the vexing problem of getting something heavy and unwieldy from A to B. Not realizing the domino effect to follow in the future, he amiably stepped in and said the magic word: Truck. Not ones to pass up such generosity, we graciously accepted.

Tom (Tim) became our friend. We had to break him in slowly. Like trying to tame a fox, you can’t push too quickly and make big sweeping gestures with your hands or you’re liable to drive your furry friend (and his truck) into the brush. The tasks trickled in like water from a leaky pipe. I found a huge velvet bed frame for sale but I wasn’t sure it would fit in my bedroom. Onto the phone I got. Tom (you know) had just sat down to Something-and-Chips, but was willing to leave his meal to assist. Excellent. We got the unwieldy headboard into the back of the truck and set off for my house. The truck’s cab boasted permanently closed windows save the tiny quarter sliver in the front corner which puffed blessed air in my direction. As I pressed my nose to it like a slowly suffocating English Sheepdog, I had the cheek to berate him about my discomfort. Once at the house he and my then roommate Dermott spirited it up the stairs and placed it upright in my room, filling what remaining space there had been. As I considered the wisdom of committing to this purchase, Tim (whoops!) announced that he was going, chuckled at the idea of the entire frame, and wished me good luck trying to get to the bathroom tonight climbing over my existing bed and squeezing past the new headboard. This is when I first learned that he would always help a girl out, but she had to be willing to hear his comments in return.

I was given a sailboat – he had LOTS to say about that. He deigned to visit her at the Yacht Club and said she could be brought back to glory if I was willing to work on her every weekend from now until Armageddon. I sniffed at his opinion and accepted her anyway, filled with enthusiasm for a few months. I am now looking to sell her, not because she’s junk I hasten to add, but because I have a lot of other things I’d like to do before the end of the world arrives – like upgrading my motorcycle (more about that in a minute). Was he right that the sailboat was a big commitment? Yes. That’s all I’m willing to budge on the matter.

I’m not the only one who has enjoyed the benefits of knowing this handyman, nor am I the only one who has emerged scathed (is that a word?) Carol asked if he could come over to her house and fix her BBQ. He dutifully got down on the hands and knees and brought forth a range of tools both impressive and varied. I was reminded of one of our first meetings when he went into paroxysms of joy over a genuine spanner from the 1930s. After much twisting, turning, tinkering and muffled laughter he pronounced it DOA. This would have to be replaced, that was on the brink of crumbling… It didn’t look that bad to me, but then I’m not a Handyman. Carol made an executive decision, which involved separating Tommy’s (Timmy’s) actual knowledge from his general failure to be impressed by anything second-rate. She stood strong and kept the BBQ regardless of misgivings. In this case it worked out – it is still operational (although she’s hardly running tailgate parties there every weekend, so it’s not being pushed to its limits). So far so good. We all know, however, who she’ll be calling to haul it away when it does give up the ghost.

Lynne bought a speedboat that needed a lot of work, but our handyman declared it a “good buy.” She practically came over all faint at this positive reinforcement. Then again, she had asked his advice BEFORE she handed over the cash. I think this is why I get the full brunt of his nature; I foolishly decide to walk the path alone. We come full circle back to the motorcycle…

I had wanted to upgrade for a long time – maybe ‘cos I’m a big gal so I’d like a big bike. I found and purchased a secondhand beauty and rode it home. Lynne had just got back from a trip on her boat which was now operational, and said “Hey! Tim’s outside looking at your bike!” (I’m quoting so no pseudonyms). Noooooooo! Sure enough – the questions and opinions came thick and fast. What was that leaking there? That feels a bit rough doesn’t it? Why did you…?

Well I basically sulked like the mature adult I am and said that it was fine and why does he have to be so negative all the time? I was proud of my “new” bike. Cut to Ash Wednesday as I rode it into town and it broke down near Kirk Supermarket, front brake stuck on the wheel like peanut butter on toast. It was a public holiday and I had a 300lb immovable lump on my hands. I tell you, it pained me to dial his number…