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This is a question DIY disasters

I just can't do power tools. They always fly out of control and end up embedded somewhere they shouldn't. I've no idea how I've still got all the appendages I was born with.

Add to that the fact that nothing ends up square, able to support weight or free of sticking-out sharp bits and you can see why I try to avoid DIY.

Tell us of your own DIY disasters.

(, Thu 3 Apr 2008, 17:19)
Pages: Latest, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, ... 1

This question is now closed.

Expandy Foam, Part II
After my exciting tale of foam-based trouble, www.b3ta.com/questions/diy/post137148 comes this story of woe.

A friend of mine, P, had recently moved into a new terraced house.

He decided to get the front and back walls cavity insulated, being a fairly eco-conscious fellow, and this all went off without a hitch.

His confidence boosted, he decided to hire a "cavity wall pumper-ma-jig" (™) and to Do It Himself on the side walls.

He failed to realise that the side walls of this house were rather thin, and obviously shared with the people next door.

He drilled a hole, fitted the foam hose up to it, and left it running for a while.

This would've been fine, but it turned out that he'd drilled into the back of the woman-next-door's fitted wardrobe, and filled the entire thing up with hard-setting foam.

He knew nothing of this until she next went to get some clothes out, slid the door across, and was confronted with something resembling a giant scone, with edges of clothes peeking out like deformed, fabric raisins.
(, Mon 7 Apr 2008, 11:18, 4 replies)
Yey - I have loads of these
I have loads of stories for the QOTW. YEY.

I am a DIY GOD. Well, I mean I am handy with a drill. I think it started off from playing with Lego and Mechano. Over the years it got bigger (flatpack furniture) then moved even bigger (fitted wardrobes, kitchen etc). At least once a month I get asked to help a mate or family member out and I have seen a few things.

But first a story about me.

Me and the then girlfriend moved into our first flat together and done what all sickly loved up first flat couples do – decided to “make it our own”.

For those who have never done that, it involves painting the “Apple White” to “Apricot White”. If you are finding it hard to tell the difference – its very easy.


Anyway, the next day we went off to Ikea (sorry to digress again, but, Satan himself designed that fucking hell hole, Satan’s spastic cousin designs the furniture) and stocked up on kitchenware, bedside tables, rugs, blah, blah, blah.
As we wondered the lighting section my girlfriend stopped dead in the aisle, looked up and made a strange cooing sound solely reserved for occasion of lust.
“Its soooo pretty” she said.
I followed her eyeline to be confronted with a (ahem!) mock bronze chandelier. Now I am not a particularly fashionable guy, I think Sarah Jessica Parker looks like Mick Jagger in shit drag, but I could not get my head round why anyone would want this pig ugly piece of junk anywhere near their house.
“oooh We must have it”
“Are you taking the piss, Mrs KMWIP”
“No, Its sooooooooooooooooooo pretty”
“It looks like something Del Boy would try and flog for a fiver”
“What do you know”
“Fair point – what do I know – well I know how to put it up and you don’t”
I folded arms and grinned smugly
“Yes I do”
“What……..HAHAHAHAHA – okay – you can buy it if you put it up”

It took about six hours to go through the checkout, but, we finally made it to the car and shot back to our new home. We immediatly started to construct, rearrange, move stuff back, move it again, slightly shift, put up, put down, put up again but at a different angle and then readjust. To my complete shock Mrs KMWIP managed to put the chandelier up. To my greater shock, up it stayed.

That night, after sharing a warm bath, we walked into the front room to try our new sofas. A bottle of champagne was opened and we kissed in that sickly, doughy way that you do when you first live together. Within a few minutes I was removing her dressing gown and caressing her body. After at least an hour of award winning foreplay (what – its my story) we were gently making love on the sofa.

I remember looking deeply in her eyes and thinking how lucky I am.

I required 5 stitches when the chandelier fell on my back. My spine was so bruised that I was unable to walk for a week. She thought that the Rawl plugs were little plastic sleeping bags for the screws so they wouldn’t bang about in the bag they were supplied in. She had carefully removed each one before screwing the screws into the half inch plaster ceiling.

The chandelier was returned to Ikea the very next week.

Very sorry for length and sp£ll1ng M1stake5
(, Thu 3 Apr 2008, 20:04, 5 replies)
locked in
Im converting the old barn opposite me into a house just now. I have got the upstairs floors in and recently put up all the partition walls and internal doors upstairs.
I had been sanding and treating the floorboards in the bedrooms. Its tedious stuff - sand, hoover up dust, apply varnish, wait for it to dry, sand, repeat for 3 more coats.... I just got on with it and let my mind wonder far and wide.

I was in one of the bedrooms merrily sanding away, and I came to the bit behind the door. I shoved the door shut and it snicked closed. In that millisecond of the echo fading away, I knew Id screwed up.

I have recently installed the doors.

I have not yet fitted the door handles.

I was confronted with a closed door with just a wee square hole where the handle would fit. No handle. No tools, nothing to force the mechanism. I was trapped in the room. The door opens in towards the interior of the room, and I had done a nice solid job of fitting the frame to the studding of the wall, so forcing it would require a big effort and would destroy the frame, door and probably a decent bit of the partition walls I had just fitted. It has lift-off visible hinges, but the door has to be open to lift it up.


The window.....
I live alone here and am quite isolated. Nearest neighbour is maybe 1/4 mile away and with the wind blowing, well outside shouting for help range. My dog was in the garden, but lacks Lassie-like skills in retreiving help. The road is access to my house and the neighbours only - no passing traffic to scream at.


The window... yes, it has a handle fitted and is big enough to fit through....
But im the equivelant of slightly over 1.5 storeys up and the ground below is rocky. Im no stuntman or paratrooper so dropping would have likely resulted in broken bones.
My van was parked maybe within leaping distance, but my chunky body landing on its flimsy wet roof from such a height would likely result in a badly dented van and broken bones.

"I need a rope" i thought. No rope present.
Inventory check....
electric sander with cable - hmmm possibly. Nope, too thin, too short.
broom. err?
me, fully clothed. now there is an idea -

Braced the broom handle diagonally across the window frame. Tied one sleeve of my fake AllBlacks rugby top to it and let the rest out the window. Hmmm not long enough. Trousers.... off came the shabby old shell-suit bottoms. One leg tied to the free sleeve and the other dropped. Hmm, that looks manageable.
I was commando under the trousers though, so am now sporting just a t-shirt and trainers. ssssssexy.

The isolation saved my dignity though. Only my dog was faced with the sight of my flabby, semi-naked self fearfully shuffling over a window ledge, turning round baring my hairy arse to the world and daintily decending the rope*

*Barely controlled slide.
(, Thu 3 Apr 2008, 19:44, 3 replies)
My father and DIY
By all rights, my Dad should be the best DIY Dad in the business. He spent the fifties building and maintaining vacuum valve computers and radar gear, the sixties designing bits of military jets and the seventies/eighties designing parts of oil refineries, rigs and pharmaceutical plants. The Handley Page Victor, English Electric Lightning, BAC TSR2, Jodrell Bank, half the North Sea oil platforms and even Concorde contained bits my father had designed himself.

Armed with this experience, you'd think that getting my Dad to hang a shelf would be like asking Stephen Hawking to help with your maths homework, right?


My father is blessed with the sort of self confidence akin to a herd of elephants, the patience of a small child and the easy going nature of Basil Fawlty. As a result, such trivialities as a set of instructions or even a cursory moment to check his calculations were frequently skipped, much to the hilarity of the neighbourhood.

I cringe looking back, neighbours must have been regularly regaled with the frenzied cry of "Oh SHIT!!!" being bellowed from inside sheds, under car bonnets or in the general vicinity of our tormented Black & Decker Workmate.

Boiler Room Rage:

Incident number one occurred when I was about nine years old. Dad decided that the unsightly hexagonal key used to gain entry to our central heating boiler under the stairs just wouldn't do.

I recall being scooped out of bed by my nervous mother and bundled into the back of the family car for the four mile trip to our local Marleys at some ungodly hour of a Saturday morning. After a thrilling thirty minutes, I was ordered to assist Dad with his project.

Four hours later and after being slapped twice for various misdemeanours (ie "not holding the wood properly") Dad has finished drilling into the metal door and is installing a proper handle.

"Wha... Wha... You BASTARD!"

Oh dear. I sense rage building...

I looked at the door and I looked at my dad. He wore an expression on his face that was midway between rage and utter confusion and befuddlement. His hand rested on the door handle he'd just fitted and he tried again, perhaps hoping his initial assessment was wrong.

Then Mount Etna erupted.

"They've sold me the wrong BLOODY handle. SHIT!" he yelled.

Yep, to open the boiler cupboard door, you had to pull the handle *up*.

Kitchen Fiasco:

Six months later, Dad decided that mum needed a new kitchen. MFI? Not a chance.

Dad meticulously planned the operation in his own brain. The thing that amazed me at the time was that not a single drawing or blueprint was used. It was all sketched out in his head.

We'd need tiles. Lots and lots of tiles. Saws, drills and spirit levels of some considerable vintage were produced. Lengths of wood were retrieved from the shed and I was ordered to patiently sit on the wood, hold screwdrivers and saws while absolutely not saying a word while my father intermittently sketched marks on the wood with a pencil, sawed and ranted at the neighbours' children for being too noisy. A bewildering range of aged, rusting tools were dangled in front of my face with the faint promise that I too might get to use them if I was quiet enough and concentrated long enough. Failure to concentrate to my father's satisfaction was rewarded with cold rage and a slap if I wasn't careful.

My mother kept her distance, she'd be told to "sod off!" when Dad got fed up of her nervously dispensed advice like "Oh, I think you need to put a screw in there" uttered at a hushed volume.

I guess she was desperately trying to contain his rage and placate him. Paradoxically, she was great at dispensing useless and rage inducing advice though, even a mild mannered soul like me cannot undertake any DIY while my mother is around, for being told "You need a phillips screwdriver for that" in hushed faux-knowledgeable tones usually has me grinding my teeth within seconds. Eventually, she resorted to her last line of defence - topping up cups of tea.

By lunchtime, our kitchen resembled the aftermath of Krakatoa crossed with a Greek Wedding. Bits of broken ceramic lay everywhere, in the middle stood a portly, red faced swearing man.

"The BLOODY walls aren't straight! SHIT!" yelled a voice kneeling on the floor, with three inches of arse-cleavage peek-a-booing up from the beltline of his jeans as he was attempting to tile from floor to ceiling. How he guessed from this altitude I'll never know.

"Shit! SHIT! You BASTARD!" he bellowed as another tile broke.

"These BLOODY tiles!"

The tiling was eventually comlete at long last. However, in a manner akin to one of those geometric illusion type drawings, if you traced the line of tiles along the top of the longest wall, the ceiling appeared to have been installed at an angle of two degrees off the horizontal.

By 9pm Saturday night, worktops were being sawn. I was attempting to watch "Dad's Army" above the sound of someone bellowing "Shit!" at the top of their voice before coming in to tell me I was lazy and useless for not helping him.

By 5pm Sunday he was attempting to mount doors onto new cupboards. Yep, a sturdy looking framework and new worktops were fitted. Not bad.


Due to a minor miscalculation of cupboard space, it tanspired that we suddenly had three previously unaccounted for inches between the cooker and a cupboard.

Dad stared at this intesnely for a few minutes, with the usual blend of befuddlement and barely contained rage.

Ingenuity eventually saved the day however. Dad wandered off with a saw and produced a cupboard door three and a half feet high by three inches wide. My mother was instructed to keep her baking trays there.

Record Cabinet Disaster:

Mum managed to win a small amount of money on the Football Pools. Yay mum! However, instead of treating herself to something nice, she pre-empted a Dad-rage by buying him some chipboard. Why?

Well Dad expressed a desire to make a record cabinet a few weeks previously. Hoping that giving him what he wanted would soothe his oft volcanic temper, mum did something truly daft thanks to an ill conceived moment of kindness.

It was a bright summer weekend, I sat on my bedroom floor assembling the Forth Bridge from Lego (again, without instructions). By 11am I was retrieved from my room and sat outside on bits of chipboard as Dad intermittently sawed and ranted.

"SIT STILL! Hold the bloody screwdriver properly, you won't be able to do any of this when you grow up if you don't pay attention!"

Yep. I was the walking toolbox, however at least I'd reached an age when he stopped slapping me around when things went pears. I think it goes some way to explaining why to this very day, I find the sound of someone drilling into a wall utterly terrifying.

By late afternoon, the job seemed nearly complete. Despite the lack of plans, the cabinet was cuboid in shape. I was confident, had my super dad managed to snatch a daring victory? It would appear so.

Takeaway that Saturday afternoon was almost a jovial affair. My mum wasn't a bag of nerves and things looked promising.

Sunday morning, my own construction was coming along nicely. I hummed along to the music coming from my brother's bedroom. I remain grateful for the sanity gifted to me from the Human League, Luther Vandross, Gary Numan and the Boomtown Rats courtesy of my brother's Realistic (read Tandy own brand) Hi Fi.


*sound of needle abruptly scratching across vinyl*

A blood curdling scream of rage and anguish pierced the air. Birds stopped singing outside.


Then I recall hearing a loud banging noise, the type you might hear if someone kicks a chipboard record cabinet hard.

"SHIT!" *bang* "SHIT!" *thump* "SHIT" *splinter*

Startled I walked to the window, fearful that Dad might look up and take his rage out on me.

I was rewarded with the sight of a grown man toe-punting the rapidly disintegrating remains of a record cabinet around the garden. The wood, tools and everything else in earshot were excrementally denounced.

The reason for the destruction? Turned out that Dad had lost his temper attempting to take a plane to chipboard...
(, Thu 3 Apr 2008, 19:25, 11 replies)
DIY b3ta
So the other day I was walking at lunchtime through a nearby park, and passed a picnic table. On top of the table was a small black thing, so I looked closer at it. This turned out to be a zipper pull:

I was going to throw it out, until I happened to turn it over in my hand:

Add some Mardi Gras beads, and:

Presto! Who needs Photoshop or Paint?
(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 11:45, 15 replies)
Under the floorboards
I re-layed my dining-room floor last summer. On the concrete, before the laminate went down, I wrote in big black marker letters, "HAVE YOU FOUND THE BODIES YET?"

I'm quite proud of that.
(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 12:37, 8 replies)
Rogers Wife
There's only a tenuous link to DIY but it's a great story. Had me crying with laughter in the pub when I heard it.

Roger's a mate of mine. A thoroughly decent chap but he had been married to a total nutcase. The marriage eventually ends and nutcase moves to a village about 5 miles away and Roger settles down to a life of peace and quiet.

Ah, but life's not like that is it? Especially when your ex is a nutcase. So every time nutcase went down to the local pub and filled up on "Olde Knickerdropper" she'd stagger home and ring Roger up and hurl abuse at him. And so it was on this fateful night.

Roger had been down the local playing darts with me and the boys. He'd had a few and eventually went home and parked himself in front of the telly with DVD and the sound turned up to max. He cracked a can and was watching some movie with lots of bangs ad explosions. The phone rang. Roger turned down the sound and picked it up.


It was the nutcase.


The usual abuse.


Roger said: "Ah. Drunk again. Do what you fucking want" and put the phone down. And unplugged it and went back to his movie.

Now at the time, Roger was doing some DIY (told you the link was tenuous) and had a pallet of bricks stacked on his lawn which he was using to repair a wall. So he's sitting watching his movie when:


A brick comes flying through the window and bounces off the wall next to his head. Roger leaps up and runs into the garden to find nutcase wobbling across his lawn, in high-heels, towards a waiting taxi. He collars her and pulls his mobile out and calls Plod. Plod turns up and arrests nutcase and Roger heads back indoors and goes to bed.

Next morning he rings up a mate, Mick, to come round and give him a price for fixing the window. Mick turns up, had a cuppa with Roger then goes outside to measure up. 2 minutes later Roger hears a strange high-pitched noise from the garden and looks out the window. Mick was lying on the lawn, bright-red and flailing around weakly.

"Fuck'n hell - he's having a heart attack." thinks Roger and then runs out to help him.

Mick is sitting up, wetting himself with laughter, and pointing at the wall.

Roger looks.

All around the window where the brick had come through were marks on the wall. And strewn around under the window were broken bricks. About 50 of them.

Nutcase, standing not more than 5 feet from the window, had thrown over 50 bricks before actually hitting the window.

"No wonder she was so crap at darts" muttered Roger.

(, Sun 6 Apr 2008, 3:37, 4 replies)
useful feminine devices
The ages of 13 to 16 are a bit of a blur to me as I was smoking round about an 8th of skunk every two days or so, whilst attending one of the most sloaney private schools in the country and generally fucking things up.

My greatest achievement however, before I was packed off to boarding school for 6th form, was creating the Incredible Tampon Inserter for my final project in GCSE DT.

DT was one of my favourite classes cause I could sneak off, have a few spliffs and then spend a relaxing double lesson sanding random bits of wood I found and painting them pink. However my safe, balsa wood smelling haven was soon to be disrupted.

A few months before our DT exam we got a new teacher called Mrs. Angel who was a complete and utter cunt, and made it her mission to whip me into shape and force me to get an A so she would look good. I complied, by copying out IKEA instruction manuals and pretending I was going to make a bookshelf for my practical exam.

The day came, and honestly, I did think I was going to attempt to make a bookshelf! A shit one, I suspected, but a bookshelf none the less. However this was not to be. That morning I met up with some mates from the adjoining boys school and smoked some extremely powerful skunk, plus a huge hash blunt that turned out to have had a large percentage of opium in it.

I turned up to the four hour exam stoned out of my tiny head and starting to hallucinate a little bit. I felt great! I was gonna make the best fucking bookshelf the invigilator had ever seen.
Alas, I spent 2 hours doing what I had always done in lessons, and just sat there sanding a big block of wood (bout the same size and shape as four bricks), so one of the sides was slightly curved.

The half way point arrived and I finally noticed my teacher staring at me with an unprecedented look of fury in her face. I looked at what I had created and decided I must make SOMETHING, if not a bookshelf.

So, for the remaining two hours I attached (with duct tape, no wood glue for me, oh no) six, 4" by 2" posts to the top of the block of wood, all in a row. I then preceded to paint the base pink, and the posts red. It was a work of art, I just had to decide what it was. Then a stroke of genius came and I started silently laughing so hard that I almost cracked a rib.

The end of the exam came, and the invigilator man walked around asking everyone what they had made and looking at their plans etc. He came to me. "So young lady, this doesn't look like the bookshelf in your designs...."

"No. This just appeared in my mind and I had to make it Sir. My brain had no control over my hands, I think I was possessed with the spirit of Jesus, he was a carpenter too wasn't he?"

"Erm.......Ok...So what is this?"

"It's a tampon inserter"


"You balance a tampon on top of each little peg, then you sit on it and the tampon goes right in, easy!" "I painted the pegs red so it's harder to see the mess if your having a heavy flow day"

Cue the invigilator trying hard not to burst out laughing, and my teacher running over, grabbing my invention and shouting "GO TO MY OFFICE...NOW!!!".

I had never been in that much trouble, ever. Not even when I habitually wore a garter belt and stockings to netball lessons. Still, the only thing that was a disaster in my mind is that they confiscated the tampon inserter and I never got it back!!!

Apologies for width, I always had to use super plus tampax.
(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 22:43, 10 replies)
My dad's mate
This is the first time I have had a decent answer. Woo.

My dad's mate was doing some DIY and smacked his thumb with a hammer, properly hard and he was in agony for a couple of days. He showed my dad his thumb and my dad told him that the pain was being caused by the pressure of swelling under the nail and the best thing to do was relieve the pressure. How? By heating a needle and boring through the nail. Sounds sore but the guy was in agony so thought he'd give it a shot. That night he went home, found a needle and started boring. He tried it for a while but couldn't pierce through. Then an idiot lightbulb went of in his head. He wanted it done quickly so thought 'A drill!'. Genius. So he found his trusty Black and Decker and got the thinnest drillbit he could find. In preparation for some blood that he knew was coming, he filled a basin with water and put it under his hand. One quick blast and he would be fine. Just pierce the nail. One quick pull and done. So he did it. The drill pierced the nail as he wished, but also went on to pierce completely through his thumb. At which point he screamed, let go of the drill, which snapped the drillbit because it was so thin, the drill fell into the basin of water, which shorted all the electricity in the house leaving him in the dark with drill through his thumb. Nice.
(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 14:46, 4 replies)
DIY (or Self Inflicted) Cirrhosis
Now I would be the first to admit that I am a devotee of drinkies. I have never yet met a tipple I didn't like (slight exaggeration, but I refuse to let a drink win without a struggle). Until I encountered home-made wine.

My maternal grandfather made superb single-varietal apple wine which had the aroma of Calvados and the falling-down effects of a sledgehammer to the back of the bonce.

My paternal grandfather brewed his own beer, and a wonderful light yeasty brew it was too. Many years of living in Africa had made him develop a beer-based timetable, and at a certain point in the day he would pour a good-sized jar out and he and my Grandmother would sip happily away. Not a bad way to spend your retirement.

My Godmother made strange wine from anything organic, which, while it exploded now and then and once tasted strangely of sardines, was generally rather toothsome in a surreal way.

My Dad, well, he got a kit. His first few years efforts were, errm variable I think is the politically correct term. Gut-churningly awful has also been used. A white wine should not be so astringent that your cheeks are sucked inwards so that your lips resemble a cat's bum. A red wine should not stain glass permanently. Or bubble suspiciously when poured. He gave up in the end, although TBF he wasn't bad after a decade or so's practice.

I have now got possesion of the winemaking kit. However, not being completely daft, I 'liberated' a couple of demijohns full of matured fruit based beverage while collecting the crate full of tubes and mysterious assorted gubbins.

Then I discovered exactly why it had been left (unlabelled) in a garage. The white has the subtle aromas of cat urine and kerosene combined with the body of a famine victim and the aftertaste of WD40 and phlegm. The Red/Rose/Neon nosed well, lots of fruitiness, before the taste of mildew, Sumo-Wrestler's jockstrap and graveyard soil muscled through.

Hmm, 24 bottles so bad that even I won't drink them. To go with the half case of Netto Spanish White that someone gave me a while back and is definitely past it's best. What to do?


Pour the stuff into tupperware, lob into freezer compartment, remove ice after it's been freezing for a bit, rebottle and drink.

Well, all except the last. The first batch is sitting menacingly in an old rum bottle, waiting for me to get pissed/poor enough to actually consider drinking it. I didn't know liquids could scowl menacingly, but this one can.

I also have made a fantastic strawberry vodka, unfortunately followed by a plum recipe. This was eye-wateringly sharp, so for the next batch (and this is the clue that I had indulged in a shandy or two), I used dried plums. Or prunes as they are otherwise known.

It could only be described as 40% ABV prune treacle. After a glass or seven the memory of trying to remain perched on the throne with the room circling around me as the house apparently was crossing the Irish Sea in a Force 9 Gale, while Godzilla thrust his taloned paw up one's ricker and ripped my colon out, is still one that haunts me at 4am.

Say no to prunes.
(, Tue 8 Apr 2008, 14:39, 8 replies)
Making things is what I do
DIY, although not something I rush to do, is somewhat second nature to me. I make most things myself - I cook, invent recipes, garden, make people cards and presents (not the shit - oh, a home-made christmas card type stuff - things that are personal to you, are things you specifically like and are humorous) fix cupboards and shelves, make clothes, know how to weld large steel things etc etc.

All this leads to a certain state of mind. Like the little old lady in Goodness Gracious Me, why you need to get that when I can make it at home for free?! All I need is one smaaaall aubergine... It's not a cheapskate approach, it's just that when you know how something's done the markup on products is thrown into sharp relief. So there you are, pitched against the world and ready to make anything damnit!

So a couple of summers ago, I was at Glade festival. It was fantastic, a nice friendly place with biassed cross-section of society. There were lots of people in outlandish getups, and there were stalls where you could costume yourself similarly. It was at this point that an increasing number of chubby girls started walking past wearing those tiny, glittery, fluffy fairy wings.

"Gah! You, you're not aerodynamic! If you were a REAL fairy you wouldn't be able to fly with those pissy little bloody wings!!! I'm gonna make a REAL pair of wings that I'd be able to fly with!!?!"

I then collapsed from a punctuation overdose. The idea was lodged though. I would make fairy wings to scale, or at least as near to scale as I could. And so I did - of course they weren't actually to scale, the wire wings would've collapsed under their own weight and I wouldn't have been able to move anywhere, but they had roughly a six foot wingspan and I was satisfied. They also flapped nicely if I wiggled my shoulders back and forth.

Here I am in a cafe with them on. Spot the aubergine.

(, Thu 3 Apr 2008, 22:22, 9 replies)
DIY Tree House
This would prob have fit into last weeks QOTW as well, come to think of it.

I grew up in the Far East courtesy of the parents moving about and always wanted a tree house the likes of Enid Blyton's descriptions in her many books. Problem was that we mostly lived in the city without much greenery around us.

Fast forward to one time when we moved to a property with a sloped garden and a massive tree with spaced out branches that was perfect for said treehouse. So, father decides to indulge us with a treehouse, and sets about sketching lots of pictures, followed by a trip down to the timber yard. Back at the house, lots of sawing and hammering ensued, with lots of fatherly Man-grunts. Finally the work of art was unveiled, and the gangplank to lead up to the entrance was put in place.

My sister excitedly ran across and entered the tree house, followed by Timmy, our overweight retriever, who finding herself unable to squeeze past the entrance, poked her head through the tiny window on the side with both her paws on the sill. From here, everything settled into slow motion:

Timmy's paws slipped and she lurched herself through the tiny window where she got stuck and started to panic. Her hind legs flailing managed to kick the gangplank out of place. Her bulk then shifted the balance of the base of the treehouse, tilting at an angle because my wonderful father had only balanced the planks between the branches and forgotten to hammer them in to secure them.

So, dog half stuck in the house, and house is moving. My sister screams and tries to get out, house lurches onto its side. My sister is now stuck clinging to the other window for dear life. Her legs are dangling out of the door and you can see her cotton undies rapidly filling up with scared crap. My dad runs over, positions himself below her and tells her to let go as he will catch her.

She does, falls into his arms, smearing him with shit. Then Timmy the dog who is howling away, still dangling above them, decides to empty her bowels too. All over my father, who is cradling my sobbing sister. My mum runs over, grabs sister from dad, instructs him to recue dog and walks off in disgust. So dad has to try and recue dog, but finally the planks give way due to weight of dog and she comes crashing through. Dog falls on dad, dad goes under like a sack of potatoes.

Then the front of the treehouse falls out onto the both of them.

Luckily after a visit to A&E and the vets (after both of them had been hosed down) there was no damage apart from bruised ribs and a bruised manly ego.

We had a bonfire a few days later and we stayed playing indoors and never requested dad to build us anything again.

[EDIT: There was the doghouse...]

Apart from the doghouse which he built for said dog a while later, with a one way hinged door that opened inwards to keep out the tropical rains. Dog went in, turned around a few times and in the process shut the door on herself. Given that dog was fat, she couldn't really budge, and because the door opened inwards she was essentially stuck. Lots of howling and fouling later, dad set her free by prying the top of the dog house off.

Another bonfire. No more building.

(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 13:41, 4 replies)
You know that old story where some dickhead starts paint a floor and ends up in the far corner of the room with the whole floor painted and he's unable to get out?

I was that dickhead.

But, being me, I had to make it worse. So I took my shoes and socks off and made a dash for the door reasoning that I could paint over my foot marks when the floor had dried. I also decided to run on the tips of my toes and use big strides to minimise the damage.

First stride, lands OK and the momentum swung me into my second stride which touched the floor and went into an immediate skid which ended up with me crashing into a wall, bouncing off, and rolling all over my freshly painted floor.

I'm a great ideas man but my implementation lets me down.....

(, Sun 6 Apr 2008, 14:06, 7 replies)
I knew a man years ago who was a painter. He did pretty good work and didn’t charge exorbitant fees, so he was pretty busy for a while- and then the economy got rather dodgy, so his work load dried up.

The local minister was a nice guy, and knowing Jimmy needed the work he got permission from the church board (or whatever they were called) to hire Jimmy to paint the church. Jimmy gratefully accepted the work and did the job in record time, so the church was again a beautiful gleaming white. The minister was so pleased with the work that he contacted other ministers in the area to recommend Jimmy, so suddenly he was busy again.

I knew Jimmy somewhat, and heard through the grapevine that he was cutting costs by thinning his paint down with water. I told him he shouldn’t do that, especially as it was essentially charity work, but he laughed at me and told me that God wouldn’t care- and if he did, he could paint the churches himself. As it really wasn’t my place to say anything, I let it go, though it bothered me a fair bit.

Apparently Jimmy got bolder and cut the paint further, until he may as well have been brushing milk on these buildings. Finally he was on his ladder, painting the steeple, when a wind blew and lightning hit the steeple and blew him off the ladder. He landed on the grass, bruised but otherwise intact, and realized that this was a not-so-subtle hint. He fell to his knees and cried out, “I’m sorry, God! What can I do to make it up to you?”

A booming voice from the heavens roared, “Repaint! And thin no more!”

(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 20:41, 8 replies)
My dad, DIY legend.
Let's be clear, my dad knows how to make and fix stuff - for 40-odd years he was an engineer. He built his own cars, as a youngster and, in later life, has restored the odd classic or two. He is a dab hand with plumbing and electrical work and has even built a passable granite garden wall...

However, there are times that this seems to fail him and te profanity-ridden aftermath is often a sight to behold.

1) The kitchen lino.
It is a firmly held belief of my dad's that any substance, once poured on the floor, will "find it's own level". This included the bitumen he upended on the kitchen floor to hold the new lino down. The fact it came out of the three-gallon can in once piece and stood upright didn't seem to faze him. No, he could wait. It was only after twenty minutes that he decided the best thing to do would be to level it out - using the yard broom. We now have a kitchen floor that has a nasty dog-leg break akin to the longer holes at St Andrews. This is ignoring the fact he glued his slippers to the floor, stepped back, glued his socks to the floor and, in the process of removing himself glued his gloves and feet to the floor.

2) Plasterboard + dog +stepladder.
I don't understand why my usually sensible dad would choose to plasterboard the stairwell ceiling without shutting the (large) dog out of the way. Nor do I understand why he thought propping one end of the board up with a broom on a stepladder was a good idea. Nor, I'll admit, do I understand why he felt that covering the stepladder he was on, the bannister and everything below three feet in height in dust sheets was a good idea. I do know that, when the doorbell rang, the crash, yelps, barking and ensuing dust cloud that billowed out of the front door were worth the price of admission. Oh, and that you can comfortable turn a large labrador/alsation cross white with only one 6x4 sheet of plasterboard if it is smashed finely enough in the chaos.

There are more...most recently he sat in his van and watched my car roll down the drive and into a neighbours' car as he felt that having it parked with the handbrake on wasn't good for it and only realised he'd forgotten to put the brake back on when he reversed his van out of the way (it had been holding my car in place)...thanks dad.

Oddly enough, I wouldn't trust hiim to wire the Sky box to the TV, but I'd let him do my boiler....
(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 15:30, 3 replies)
more DIY car repairs
Ruptured your fuel tank? Not sure how to get petrol into the engine? Just build one of these babies out of a spare jerry can and the windscreen washer tubing, and run it straight into the carburettor:

Just don't lean out the window for a smoke. Oh, and remember that the fuel gauge will no longer work. And you won't be able to wash your windscreen.

(The fuel tank, by the way, was the least of our problems.)
(, Tue 8 Apr 2008, 12:41, 68 replies)
Never put your mobile down when doing DIY jobs
Like the time I was putting a TV cabinet together for my mother and couldn't find my phone.

The cabinet was fine, built magnificently and quickly, just in time for me to have a shower before the dinner I had reserved at a fancy restaurant for me and a lady friend - upon the completion of which I would be able to bring her back to my house for a nightcap and quite possibly some heavy-duty shagging.

Yes, it was all going to plan, for once, I thought, as I cracked open a beer in a quick celebratory finishing ceremony.

Mistake number 1: Building mobile phone into cabinet.

Mistake number 2: Forgetting to take my Sertraline.

Mistake number 3: Drinking alcohol whilst being in treatment for panic disorder, a condition which, in my case, is more prevalent when alcohol is present and I haven't taken my Sertraline. I was about to have a panic attack. A big one.

Upon exiting the shower, I hear the distinctive sound of my mobile - the electric guitar cover of Canon in D - at a somewhat muted volume.

"Ah!" thought I as I toweled off. "I must have left it in my work jeans!"

So I pull my jeans out of the linen basket, only to find that they are indeed bereft of mobile phones.

It was then that I suddenly remembered that I had put my mobile down whilst building the TV cabinet.

"Fucksocking buggernuggeting cuntbuckets" said I as I realized the extent of my folly.

The phone stopped ringing as I was pulling my tools back out of the toolbox.

Then started ringing again nearly straight afterwards. My lady at the time NEVER called more than once, she would just leave a scathing message.

It was at this point that the alcohol started to get into my system. Combined with the sudden and unexpected double-call, the two conspired to give me what can only be described as a massive hit of nausea and paranoia.

Good fucking god! Had something happened? Was she injured? It had to be fucking urgent if she was calling more than once! Jesus! Was she on fire? Had her car crashed? Had an ill-advised aircraft sloughed into her house?

My confused, addled mind accepted these terrifying, infeasible ideas as fact. My lady friend had caught fire whilst crashing a car into a plane! And now she was calling me to perhaps pass on her last words!

My brain, at that moment, was in more self-torment than that of the bastard offspring of a Pirate and a Viking who had gotten pissed good and tight and had accidentally done the horizontal mambo in a brothel in Thailand.

But one thing had burnt itself into my synapses through the hazy fog of chemical imbalance and hyperventilation. I had to get to my mobile. NOW.

I picked up a hammer, foregoing the screwdriver, and swung my mighty, misguided arm downwards.

Hardened Steel met fashionably finished matte black coated laminate chipboard at a velocity that far exceeded the recommended limits of safe hammer-cabinet interface.

The chipboard exploded most satisfactorily, a harsh, broken keening wail of terrified triumph tearing itself from my lips as I pulled back for another swing.

Again, steel met chipboard. Again, steel proved the victor. Great fissures and cracks appeared in the cabinet's sides as I hammered it into splintering submission, driven by a combination of adrenaline, paranoia and an increasing sense of disquiet. A lot of fucking disquiet.

At some point I chundered, spraying vomit onto everything whilst I continued to attack with my mighty hammer.

Finally, I stood victorious. The cabinet lay before me in at least twenty three pieces. In it's death throes it had painted almost every surface in the room in the peculiar sawdust-like detritus that chipboard emits when smashed with a hammer.

Thrusting my free hand into the sad pile of shattered IKEA and vomit, I pulled free my mobile, flipping it open and checking the baleful "You have 4 missed calls" message, accompanied by a "You have 1 new message".

They were all from my mother.

The terror ground to a halt. My lady friend was not, in fact, in trouble. I fought my pulse down, breathing slowly to try and calm down.

If any of you have ever had a panic attack, you'll know how draining they can be. Coming out of one is like digging your way out of a concrete grave with a butterknife.

Trembling and sweating, I checked my messagebox.


So it was that I turned up for dinner slightly late, having quickly cleaned up any evidence of there ever having been a cabinet in the living room and quickly showering again to get rid of the chunder-stench.

And I still managed to pull that night, though I got into so much shit the next day when my mother found her carpet a bit soggy.

Apologies for length, the panic attack only lasted about 4 minutes, but it felt a hell of a lot longer.
(, Mon 7 Apr 2008, 4:24, 11 replies)
Joe's Dad
I have a mate known as Joe. His dad is infamous for doing things differently.

There are three things that spring instantly to mind...

He had an old landrover, and for some reason was had a recurring issue with the wheel-studs becoming loose. One day Joe was asked to help change a tyre on one of the the landy's wheels, and noticed that his dad was attempting to do so with the wheel still attached to the vehicle... Joe sniggered and suggested that he took it off...

"Can't... welded them on last year." True to form, his dad had cracked out the trusty arc welder and welded the wheels to the hubs.

The blood thing
Joes dad had some sort of interesting blood complaint that resulted in him visiting the hospital weekly to have a bag of blood removed. I think I recall that the aim was to force the body to make fresh blood that had the desired qualities... (Maybe one of our in-house docs/medics can help with this one) ... Anyway.. Joes Dad had heard that blood is excellent for nourishing rose-beds, and had managed to obtain permission to take his own blood home with him.

Joe came home one day to be confronted with a foul-smelling and steamy bonfire. Apparently the rose beds had had enough blood, and now Joes's dad had built up an excess stock. Willing to dispose of it safely he'd decided to "incinerate it" and was dutifully placing bag after hissing bag of blood on the bonfire.

Home-Makeover Extreme Edition
These all start the same.... Joe came home oneday... and tried to walk into the house. Door wouldn't budge.... odd. He went round the side and went in through an alternative door. He was greeted by his grinning dad. "Look... I saw a DIY programme this morning where someone knocked a few walls though to join the living room, dining room and kitchen.... looks great doesn it?"

Joe surveyed the sagging ceiling and noticed the wet spot in the ceiling: A load-bearing wall... Under the bathroom. He'd taken out 2 meters of it.

After calling a couple of mates they'd got it shored back up, but the pipes never lined up correctly on the upper floors, and the bath no longer lines up with the tiles.

Joe's Dad is now banned form starting "projects" without family consultation.
(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 7:31, 3 replies)
The bells, the bells
Last year it was decided that we would have a new bathroom suite. The one that was in was the original one from when the house was built in the early 70's. All went well until i tried to take the bath out. It disconnected fine, but i just couldn't budge it. It didn't help that the walls actually got slightly narrower going away from the bath, and it was a REALLY tight fit anyway.

Either it had been installed by Dwarf Ninja Plumbing Services (and Sons) or the walls were put up after it had been installed.

Time to hit the toolkit.

WD40 - didn't help, not even the second 'emergency' can

Duct Tape - wouldn't stick anywhere, as the bath was covered in WD40

The Saw - couldn't even make a start.

That is when i knew i had to use the final item i had in it- the DAD PHONE.

One quick dial later and he imparted the wise advice ' It'll be cast iron. You need to twat it as hard as you can with a sledgehammer to smash it'.

A few minutes later i had my sledgehammer in hand and took his advice......in a room roughly 8' x 6' i hit what was basically an upside down cast iron BELL as hard as i could.


Holy shit - i was deaf. Not only that, but it hadn't even marked it!!!!

Still, there is a limit to how deaf you can be before any more makes no difference. I was nearly at the limit, so i hit it again...and again....and again.

Eventually it cracked, just before i did, and i was able to break it into small bits and take it down the scrapyard. I got about a fair few quid for it, as it weighed 18 stone . No wonder it never seemed to creak when you filled it with water.

Took 3 days before the ringing noise went.
(, Tue 8 Apr 2008, 17:11, 2 replies)
my first house
If i am ever able to buy my own house. The first thing I will do will be to seal a skeleton dressed as a builder in the wall.
(, Thu 3 Apr 2008, 18:42, 4 replies)
She Who Must Be Ignored
Has, horror of horrors, read this thread.

I am under strict instructions to relay how, in her words, I attepted to kill our first born son. To death, to coin a phrase.

Now, being a chronic book addict and packrat, I have accumulated a lot of books, so I need bookcases. When we moved in, the previous owner had left a sort of cupboardy thing wedged between wall and fireplace (and their DIY skills would fill a thread on there own, it took me two years to realise is had been bashed into place not actually attached to the wall in any way, but I digress). On top of this cupboard I slung up a couple of generic DIY store bookcases, which filled the gap nicely and make it look like I have money and had proper built in bookcases done by someone with skill.

All assembled with my normal speed and efficiency, except at some point one of the little sticky-out bits that the shelf rests on had gone AWOL. The cat underwent a body cavity check after the floor and furniture proved sticky-out bit free zones. And so, in the great tradition of laziness and improvisation, I just left it. After all, if you position the books right, everything balances, Ja?

Time Passes.

We breed. (Help help help I have to be responsible and stuff).

Junior grows at a speed unheard of except in science fiction. An appetite like a velociraptor and the energy to match. And what does he like to do? Climb. We ended up with more gates, locks and so forth than a fairly strict prison, but he still crawls for danger like a very large lemming in a romper suit.

Now, Daddy has been left in full command of Junior (ohshit). Quite rare, as naturally I am cack-handed at all things child-related. In fact it has been made quite clear that after the conception (all 2 glorious minutes of it, oops) my role is now chocolate provision, nappy removal services and heavy lifting.

Junior is crawling around with the speed and determination of a gundog on a scent on the search for weapons of baby destruction, but I'm ahead of him for once and the room is free of razor blades, venomous snakes and the like. Aahh, I can relax.

Next moment, clatter thump thud fwump fwumpfwumpfwumpfwumpWAAAAAAAH. Sherpa Junior has ascended the sofa, and attepted to climb the bookcase. That's right, the one with dodgy shelf. Which has tilted, raining books in a tsunami of tatty paperbacks, knocking him to the floor. Luckily the shelf itself missed him, but approximately fifty books didn't, thankfully all paperbacks.

He was not amused. Emergency issue of chocolate buttons was required.

SHE was very not amused.

I mended the shelf.
(, Wed 9 Apr 2008, 11:25, 4 replies)
Beer+Shed =

In my defence, I was very drunk and it was raining. Work was generally interrupted by sniggering about the word "erections".

When all said and done though - When it's raining, it's too wet to fix and when it's dry, it's as good as anyone else's shed...
(, Fri 4 Apr 2008, 19:38, 6 replies)
Oh, it's *that* kind of DIY disaster
I was on the toilet. I was a shy and awkward 13-year-old. It had been more than a year since I first noticed that girls had tits and other bits. Being a shy nerd, I had not made a single attempt to approach the sexier sex.

This you can imagine led to frustration. So far, the best way to deal with it had been to find some porn and look at it. This just intensified the sensation. It was pleasurable, but at the same time, it made me feel more frustrated. Sometimes, the pleasure in my innocent 13-year-old mind would hide the frustration, but rarely. This was years before the widespread availability of Internet pr0n. At the time, my only access to pictures of naked ladies had been through a friend who would show me his dad's badly hidden copies of Playboy. Sadly, this friend of mine had moved away so no longer did I see him or his dad's art-pamphlets. I had to make do with imagination. Luckily, I had a good imagination, but it wasn't the same as the pictures - let alone the real thing.

At school, I had briefly heard about something called 'masturbation' in sex education the previous summer, but my sex education teacher must have been feeling uncomfortable and quickly skimmed over the topic. Even though this was a few months after the fateful day my pituitary gland went 'ping', my teacher's very brief and embarrassed explanation failed to make me intrigued in any way.

So I was sat down on the toilet. I was having another one of those urges. Up until then, the only thing I had managed to do about it was to get an erection and move my self-awareness completely to my willy. Sometimes, I'd stroke it. This had little or no effect, but I'd still do so anyway. This must have been a form of tactile pornography.

So there I was with my bum planted firmly on the toilet. It was the bathroom toilet, so it was a fairly large room. There was plenty of space in front of the toilet. It was a wood-panelled bathroom with a carpet covering the floor. At the other end of the bathroom was a full-length wall-mirror. I could see myself in all my glory, but it was not myself I wanted to see, but a naked girl.

Now, I was both a tit-man and a fanny-man. If a naked girl had walked into the bathroom, I would have had three choices for things to look at, not to mention touch. All these parts had sub-parts. The breasts had nipples, and I had yet to discover the full range of what the lady-garden had on offer when in full bloom. Girls had a veritable Smorgasbord of parts. I had but the one. I could see it reflected in front of me. It wasn't what I was in to but it was there.

Length? spakkaboy jr was no longer jr to say the least. It was as if he had become an appendage with a life of his own.

My magnificent construction was starting to rise. It was very clearly visible in the mirror. My cockshaft was getting so long that the head started to emerge from the foreskin of it's own accord. All I could do was make it twitch. At this moment, a girl could have done me a great favour there and then. Here was a moment of frustrated lust that needed something doing to it. I was thinking about the various girls in my class at school. I had my favourites, but quite frankly, even the non-favourites would have been more than welcome at this moment. Were these girls even aware that they had the ability to do something so wonderful to someone? Not only could they have caused relief, but they could have intensified my lust and then relieved it in the most satisfying of manners. It just seemed like a terrible waste.

I was stuck here with just myself and my body. I decided to touch my shaft and close my hand around it in imitation of a makeshift vagina. I had tried this before. It didn't seem to do anything. Yet I kept trying it from time to time. Recently, I was trying this nearly every evening. I tried moving the hand up and down. It was not having much of an effect. I did however notice it start to feel nice and warm. I moved my awareness to my stiffy, and boy, was it a stiff one!

I kept doing this for a while. Eventually, I somehow managed to get the tip my foreskin stuck between my glans and my shaft. Combined with the hand-movements, this was feeling pleasurable - pleasurable but frustrating. It felt like it was glowing now. I had found the perfect combination of foreskin-glans-hand co-ordination where the rest of the foreskin would move around the lower half of my glans. The warm feeling was intensifying. Now, I was glowing hot.

I kept this up (oo-er) for a minute or two. My feeling of lust was creeping up. I wasn't sure what I was doing, but it felt good so I kept on doing it. Suddenly, I felt like I was being possessed. It was like my pelvis was building up a magical energy. Magic-juice was now running through my veins spreading to other parts of my body. This was starting to feel better all the time. It was more than an intense feeling of frustrated lust - this was something else, and it felt better. For once, I felt like my frustration was actually being satisfied. And then, an extremely great feeling! The feeling subsided quickly, and out of the eye of my one eyed monster came something that I had hard about … the legendary white stuff. I had never seen anything like it before - let alone something like it emanating from me.

While somewhat intrigued, I thought to myself "That’s it? It's so short!” Even so, I felt a bit relieved. At the time, I did not know what the word for this was called, so I just called it the 'fuck-feeling' for want of a better word. I still wanted the real thing just as bad, but at least now, I had had first hand experience of the legendary 'fuck-feeling'.

I decided it would be a good time to clean up. I got up, tripped over and landed flat on my face. It was then that I remembered that my dad had just tried to fit a new carpet in the bathroom.
(, Wed 9 Apr 2008, 13:06, 52 replies)
Rubble - a DIY rememberance
My Dad was a bit of a quiet achiever, not really making any fuss about building a whole extension on our house, installing a swimming pool, all the things I used to take for granted that Dads just did. He died on Wednesday, of old age and complications related to emphysema.
I'm currently at home avoiding writing the eulogy I will be delivering at his funeral on Tuesday, pondering those bits of my history with him, and not finding a lot. Because, to be honest, he was an absent sort of guy - even when he was there, which was more than many dads, being a teacher. Until I looked at b3ta and the qotw. Now, I have remembered my very first DIY ever.

The extension I mentioned above happened when I was around 5 or 6 years old, dad used his long service leave to do the job. Part of the job was of course to level the area inside the footings so we wouldn't have to build a floor around a bunch of boulders which would then stick up into our new lounge room floor. So dad showed me how to break rocks. The area we lived in was a big sandstone plateau, so it's not like we're talking basalt or granite or anything. I really wanted to help - to be a part of the team. So dad gave me a boulder of my own to reduce to unboulderness, and the use of a 3- and a 5-pound hammer, because I couldn't even really lift the big sledge hammer dad was using. In my memory this rock was quite rounded, and came halfway up my thigh. E.Normous. I worked on it diligently, for days and maybe weeks as dad did his bit, and moved on to the footings and so forth around me. He never criticised, or offered help, or even asked how I was going - he just looked from time to time, and like me would have noticed the thing getting smaller and smaller. I remember the moment of completion, the previously huge monotlith had been chipped down and chipped down and eventually the last remaining lump about the size of 2 footballs just - split, and i was able to just smash it all into little pieces all in one sitting. I took in a bit of the rubble to show dad. I can see him smiling his simple, pleased smile. He just said "Good job dadadali. Next year we're going to put in a bigger pool - with a deck. You can help if you want".

DIY child rearing. That's it. In so many ways he just gave the job of growing up right back to me. I used to have resentments about his absence, his aloofness, his emotional distance...but now I see the good bits; that in so many ways I was just free to be. His job was just to provide the opportunities. Which he did. Now, I'm a DIY grown-up.

Apologies for length, and thanks for listening to my story about rubble.
(, Sat 5 Apr 2008, 10:39, 5 replies)
DIY cointreau
My mother made cointreau from vodka, orange peel and sugar. You had to put it in a dark, warm place (what we call a hot press but you English types call the airing cupboard) and shake it every day.

She and her friends drank it on Christmas Eve. They got so pissed and so excited that my mum over-rocked on the rocking chair and fell off onto the Christmas tree, collapsing the whole damn thing and landing on the presents.

We like to remind her of that every Christmas, especially when we're putting the fairy on the top of the tree: "oh look ma, the fairy made it to the top of the tree, just like you didn't."
(, Tue 8 Apr 2008, 15:05, 76 replies)
While we're covering DIY surgery...
I made the mistake one night of walking home without my shoes on. They were stupid bastard high girly heels and they made my size nines hurt like a bitch. I was drunk, it was a warm night, I thought nothing of the safety of my tootsies...

The next morning, the sole of my left foot was really, REALLY sore. Just up towards the ball of my foot, couldn't put it down properly. I figured it was the shoes, I couldn't see anything there (mind you, the bottom of my foot was pretty disgusting from the walk home). I thought no more about it, and limped on...

Days passed and the pain subsided. But my foot never felt quite, well, right. Eventually, out of curiosity, I waited till my office was empty and slipped off my shoe. There, in the ball of my foot was a lump, hard and irregularly shaped. I poked, I prodded, I said "ow" quite a lot. What to do? Wait for a doctors appointment? Go to the NHS walk in centre? Or...

I nipped down to the lab and picked up some ethanol wipes, a spray bottle of ethanol, autoclaved forceps and a scalpel and a pack of fresh blades. I then hid in one of the instrument rooms, cleaned the forceps and scalpel with ethanol, just to be sure, then wiped my foot with the alcohol wipes.

And then I sliced. A nice neat incision about a centimeter long. Using the forceps I pushed the flesh on either side back slightly and bugger me, I could see something. For there, wedged in the bottom of my foot was something clear and shiny. I gently eased the forceps around it, grabbed and pulled.

And out slid a chunk of broken glass, about the size of a 5p piece and twice as thick.

It was at this point that I realised my foot was hurting like fuck and I had to sit in the "I'm going to faint" position for a minute.

But when I stood up, there was no pain, no discomfort and a couple of days later, no indication that I'd ever cut the bottom of my own foot open.

My triumph was shortlived. I recounted my daring deed to one of the graduate students in the lab who used to be a nurse. "That's nothing" she scoffed "I drained a cyst from Prof T's neck the other day with a 21 gauge needle..."
(, Mon 7 Apr 2008, 22:06, 5 replies)
Paint colours
Colours are lovely, aren't they? I've spent a fair bit of time recording colour information. It's amazing, for example, the variation in the colour of soil. There are special charts so you can determine exactly the correct shade of what invariably gets recorded as "mid grey-brown sandy loam".

When it comes to computer science, I'm yer woman if you want to know about colour perception and the spectral profile of different types of illumination. Colours are reduced to precise numbers, and to wavelengths. I have a spectroradiometer and I'm not afraid to use it.

Paint, however, is less of a scientific rigour. In paint factories some womble just chucks a couple of cans together, gives it a stir, and declares it "sunset breeze". Sunset fucking breeze? It's orange, mate, probably a particulary nasty 255 153 0 to be precise.

If Jim could fix it for me, he'd fix it so I worked in a paint factory for a day naming colours. I'd carefully mix my own Brilliant Sludge, Emo Twilight, and Vagina Blush 3. Then I'd properly catalogue the whole selection of stock using numbers. Big numbers. Then I'd go and sort out the people who manufacture stupid flavoured soaps.
(, Mon 7 Apr 2008, 14:49, 43 replies)
Lovely Landlord Roy
I used to have a really nice landlord called Roy - hence the subject of my answer this week.

He was a really handy guy, and friendly, he taught me how to use a drill and electric screwdriver. As landlords go, he was easily the best by far.

As he was teaching me the way of the tool, he told me about the first time he lost his mobile.

He was concreting a floor, and some of the concrete was contained in a bucket levelled underneath by a plank of wood.

He accidentally stood on the wood as he was taking on his mobile and had a "carry on" type fall, with the phone flicking in the air and landing in the bucket.

Knowing it was beyond redemption, he left it there and carried on concreting the floor.

The story doesn't end there, just as well really as no humour is contained within.

Anyway, the following morning, he pops off to buy another mobile on his way to finish the job.

Thinking it would be hilarious, he decides to ring his old phone, from his new one, just to see what happens.

As he's walking across the floor, new mobile to ear, listening to "floor" ring, he begins to chortle. Distracted by this mild amusement he stands on the piece of wood, has ANOTHER "carry on" type fall and flicks his new phone into the concrete.

The only reason he did not do this for a third time, he informed me, was that he could not remember the number to his newest phone.

Bless 'im
(, Mon 7 Apr 2008, 13:48, 4 replies)
When I was an undergrad, I lived in a huge ramshackle old Victorian house with six other students. It was cold, had crappy furniture and the kitchen was a death trap. It was owned by an old Polish guy, who steadfastly refused to do anything to tart the place up. Any repairs that needed doing, instead of getting the professionals in, would just get his identical twin sons to do it. One of the sons was okay, seemed reasonably on the ball, you could ask him stuff and he’d generally have a clue what you were on about. The other, erm, not so much. It wasn’t that he was stupid, he was just, well, vacant. A bit oxygen deprived… We used to ask leading questions to whichever son came round just so we could work out which one we were dealing with.

Somehow, we managed to persuade the landlord that the place really needed a coat of paint, as it looked like it hadn’t been redecorated since the 60s. The 1860s. He sent one of the sons round just as we were leaving for lectures – we were on our way out of the door so didn’t have time to do the usual intelligence test.

We soon worked out which son it was when we got back.

My housemate, Mary, (for that is not her name), went into her newly painted room and had a look round. It all looked rather nice and, oh, that’s kind, he’s even put everything back on top of the wardrobe.

Except he hadn’t. He’d just not bothered to move any of it and had just painted around it. So when Mary took the bag of blankets from up there, there was a wavy line of paint on the wall where the guy had gone around the outside.
We called the landlord back and heard him screaming at his son for being an idiot. He promised to come round the next day and fix it.
True to his word, he did, except without warning us when he was coming. He just let himself in and went up the stairs. He walked into Mary’s room where Mary getting dressed. The sight of a six foot, red-haired Scottish woman wearing naught but a towel chasing a tiny old polish man down the stairs will live with me till the day I die. As will his cries of “Dear Jesus, I saw her negleesh.” I think he was going for negligee, but it could just be Polish for ginger ladygarden.

My DIY skills? Put it this way, it took 3 of us, with 7 degrees between us 4 and a half hours to build an Ikea wardrobe. And I’d been in my new flat all of 2 hours before I shorted out the power by putting a nail through a wire. And to think, they let me work with x-rays…
(, Sun 6 Apr 2008, 1:31, 3 replies)

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