Are many of us blessed with true sagacity? I look back upon my life and wonder if I could have made better choices, better decisions, trusted people more, trusted others less. That is, however, life. A turbulent era of ifs and buts, a time when each day is taken as it comes no matter how well planned because life always seems to have a spare spanner to throw into the works.
Take last week for example. I decided that I would rip up the carpet in the hallway and replace it with laminate flooring. Not a difficult task, it said on the packaging that anyone could do it. I pride myself on being quite adept at DIY and even with the constraints thrown at me by angina I was still confident that I could achieve such a simple task. Besides, I have a son, keen of mind, willing to help out the old man at the drop of a hat and, more important, cheap!.
First job, find the tape measure. A vital tool at that early stage because without it I would not have been able to calculate the square meterage of the hallway, this, as every DIYer worth his salt knows, is needed in order to estimate how many packs of laminate flooring would be required. As I have three tapes I did not regard this as being too difficult.
Spanner number one.
The first hour was taken up by me spreading the contents of my man-cave onto the lawn in a vain attempt to locate said tape measures. Next, I emptied my toolboxes – yes, I’m a two tool box man – found lots of stuff that I had thought lost or stolen but no tapes. I returned to my shed for one final look but to no avail. All that was in there were two spiders, one dead. Numerous cobwebs, a dead beetle and something that had once been something but was now an unrecognisable mouldy mess. In the absence of a barge pole I left it where it was.
Next hour or, part thereof was taken up putting the clutter back into the shed. Then into the house to search the bric-a-brac drawer in the kitchen. I scrabbled through the contents of two Christmases worth of crackers, found the red candles that my wife wanted last Christmas and impaled my thumb on a spiteful drawing pin. So pleased was I at my findings within the drawer that I spilled the whole lot into the dustbin.
My wife shouted from the living room to enquire what I was looking for. Expletive deleted; “A tape measure.” I replied.
“You know why, it is so I can measure the hall before we go out to buy the laminate flooring.”
“We’re definitely going ahead with it then?”
“WE discussed this last week when we were in B&Q and we decided to put the walnut veneer flooring down.” I replied.
“No need to shout!” She replied in a vexed tone. “Have you tried Zac’s toy box?”
“Why would I look in Zac’s toy box?” I asked.
Zac is our four year old Grandson.
“He uses them as yo-yos.” She said
“Yo-yos.” She replied.
Sure enough, nestled deep in Zac’s toy box were my three tape measures. Why I didn’t think to look there in the first place…?
Next step, check online to see how the experts lay laminate flooring. Why is it that all the experts seem to be American and are all dressed in casual clothing? Anyway after checking out three or four “experts” I felt confident that me and Number One son would find the job a piece of cake.
Spanners two and three:
In my eagerness to get the project underway I had completely forgotten that sons come with a Parent Health warning. When I explained to him the mode of operandi that I intended to use he said no! It would take too long, involve too much unnecessary work and look rubbish when we had finished. I stuck to my guns, he stuck to his; impasse.
My way involved cutting away the bottom section of each door frame so that we could slot the boards under for a neat finish. Barry, from New England, swore by this method and so did Sid from somewhere unpronounceable in Australia. Number One son insisted that we cut the boards with a jigsaw so that they fitted around the door jambs. How to break the deadlock? Well, it just so happened that I had the latest man toy, as used by Sid in Australia and designed, amongst other things, for this very job.
You would have thought I had bought him his first X-Box.
After ripping up the carpet and depositing it outside I started to take up the underlay.
“No need to do that.” said Number One. “We’ll just lay the boards straight on top and you can take that roll of underlay back to B&Q and get your money back.”
“But Barry said you shouldn’t do that.” I said.
“Barry f…..g who?” Asked Number One.
“The guy online…” I started to say.
“Forget that Pops, they’re paid by the people who make the flooring.” He said. “Besides I want to get this finished.”
I looked to my wife who shrugged. Strangely, I just knew that spanner number three was hovering above my head.
Zac was also in on the act. Seeing his Daddy whiz around the door frames with an electronic wood cleaver which threw out more decibels than a Vulcan bomber was more than he could bear. He picked up a hammer and a wood chisel and then proceeded to reshape the frame to the kitchen door. I think he carved totem poles in a previous life.
I quickly relieved him of both tools before he did himself any harm, sadly it was too late for the door frame.
Door frames completed we started to lay the boards down. It was a surprisingly quick process and apart from a little difficulty with the last row of boards, surprisingly easy.
Number One was pleased, my wife was pleased and I was pleased. The only one not happy was Zac as he had lost a yo-yo and a set of wood carving tools.
Later that evening my wife caught her toe on one of the boards and did a hop skip and a jump down the full length of the hallway. Alerted by her cries I dashed into the hallway to see what she had done. Thankfully she was fine but the floor was not. Several boards were sticking up, either at the end or lengthways. I determined that the carpet underlay was too springy for this type of flooring. A fact born out when every step taken caused the board you were walking on to pop out. Barry and Sid must have been crying into their DVD players.
I made a phone call to Number One son, although not happy he said that he and Zac would be around after Zac had finished Nursery School at 1130.
They arrived the next day as per the schedule, Number One son and his 101cm tall doppelgänger.
Zac informed me that he wouldn’t be playing with his toys today as he needed to help his Daddy fix the floor that Grampy had broken. What can you say?
The flooring came up with no problems as too did the underlay. We then put down the recommended underlay and proceeded to re-lay the laminate boards. Again, all was well. We had obviously both learned from mistakes made the previous day except for keeping an eye on Zac.
I spotted him standing in the middle of the hallway with a sheepish look on his face and a silicon gun in his hand. The problem was, instead of silicon we had loaded the gun with a tube of contact adhesive. One specifically designed for Laminate boards and very, very white. There were blobs of white goo all over the boards.
“Sorry Grampy, it was an accident,”
I relieved him of the silicon gun and proceeded to clean up the adhesive as best I could. Not an easy task but I managed it. Then, on the instructions of Number One I sat down.
I now realise why the instructions for laying a laminate floor do not include a paragraph about using the skills of a Number One son and his offspring.