Freda stood in the
living room surrounded by boxes and crates of varying sizes and looked about
her. After all her years of moving from one army quarter to another, she
was about to embark on what she felt must be the biggest adventure of her
life. Bigger even than leaving her home town for the first time and
moving to a foreign country. For the home she had just walked into was the
first place she could truly call home.
No longer would she be
forced into living surrounded by magnolia walls and standard furniture and
crockery packs with arrows and dates stamped on them, that at the time were a
staple of all forces family living. She and her husband Harvey would be
able to choose their own and Harvey, who had always claimed to be good at DIY,
but seldom had the opportunity to prove it, would be able to show her just how
good he was.
Oh, hed hung
pictures each time theyd moved and knocked up the odd bookcase for the
kids bedrooms, but most other repairs and renovations were strictly off
limits, and handled by contractors employed by the Army under the direction of
the housing officer.
She, herself, having
been brought up in a rented home, with very little spare cash, by parents who
were very good at supplying her daily needs on a limited budget, but were not
skilled in home repairs, had never mastered them at all, so when their
homemaking started, found herself with the jobs she could do, tidying up after
him and making endless cups of tea and coffee.
What she hadnt
realised was how the move would open up a whole new language. Words like
anaglypta and artex were the first of many, some of which she learned about the
hard way. Grouting became a bugbear when Harvey tiled the kitchen walls
because no matter how many times she wiped them, the fine white powder that
successfully filled the gaps between them lingered on the surface long after
the work was completed.
It wasnt until
they had an electrician to do some rewiring she learned what a conduit
Next came the word
coving, the strip that goes around the top of the walls where it joins the
ceiling. When Harvey was doing that job and tried to put too big a piece
of the plaster variety up, despite all the polyfilla type paste he put on the
back that oozed around the edges as he pressed it into place, when he pushed
one side up and tried to get tacks either side of it, the end furthest away
from him kept pulling away from the wall.
It was at the point he
nearly put his hammer through the double glazed window and dropped it not an
inch from her toe, that she also learned a few new swear words. Ones
hed used in barracks regularly, no doubt, but never in front of her and
sense prevailed and he enlisted a friends help and used smaller pieces of
the offending item; the result, a resounding success even though he was working
with walls that werent as straight as they should be. Until, that is, he
came to put up the corners and found that he had two internal and two external
ones and because they curve different ways, didnt fit. This dilemma meant
a hurried trip to the local DIY store just before it closed to try and get some
It was at this point
that Murphys Law came into play, as the store were out of stock, so work
was stopped till the following day, when a trip into town secured him the
correct ones. It was while he was there he spotted some very nice
polystyrene coving, light and easy to put up with wallpaper paste. Freda
couldnt help but laugh when he told her and poor Harvey just had to mark
that one down as a prospect for when they started the next room.
Her knowledge of tools
and various other items improved too, for every time Harvey mislaid things
shed find herself searching for not only the familiar ones, such as
pencils and Stanley knives, but also the more unusual counter sinks and
electricians screwdrivers, that she might have been able to find more
easily had she known what they looked like.
She also spent endless
hours in Do it All, Wickes, and Homebase, searching for varying sizes of rawl
plug, which led her to believe, that although her vocabulary was improving, the
house move was doing nothing for her sanity or shoe leather.
Next came new doors and the word of the week
was architrave. Oh how Freda yearned for it all to be finished.
One evening friends
arrived to see how things were progressing bringing with them an orchid as a
house warming present and she installed it in the kitchen window, watching and
waiting for it to flower.
The repairs and
renovations to the house were finished long before that happened, but when she
looked at how beautiful it was and surveyed her equally beautiful surroundings
some two years later, she couldnt help wondering that, if all shed
wanted to do was improve her vocabulary, a dictionary would have been a much
cheaper thing to buy than a house, but she also couldnt help thinking,
that flower had been worth waiting for, and so, now that all the hard work was
finished, had the house.