In a petulant, and completely unreasonable, fit of pique I told Joe the builder to fuck off, and then I stood there looking at a half-completed kitchen and wondering what I was going to do. But hey, what else would I do in a crisis? I went to the pub, where I bumped into my friend Doc, a traditional carpenter.
Well, he said. How are you getting on with that kitchen?
Ah, not too bad.
Doc looked a bit edgy. I hope you’re not building a fitted kitchen … or anything?
How do you mean?
You know. Melamine carcasses. Artificial counter-tops. Plastic adjustable legs …
I regarded him balefully. Yes, actually. I am.
Hmm, said Doc. Pity. With a little bit of effort you could have had a nice piece of furniture.
I didn’t answer. I just put down my half-finished pint, walked out into the lashing rain, hailed a taxi and went home.
I took down my gorilla-bar and, without regret or compassion, smashed the newly-built kitchen into little pieces and threw it all out on the patio, to disintegrate in the downpour.
No kitchen. Nothing.
Well, I was no worse off than a week ago, and it was all in my own hands.
I went to the timber-yard. I selected the ash and oak planks. I had them planed and thicknessed. I jointed them together. I hand-built the frames. I made the hardwood worktops. I laid out the pipework and the wiring. I fitted the power-sockets — as many as I wanted. I built the drawers.
I soldered the copper pipework for hanging the utensils. I showed the boys how a lattice-beam gets its strength and hand-built the triangulated flying arches that would carry all the pots and pans. I watched the worktops grow, and the island unit emerge. I fitted the sinks, and the stainless steel splashbacks and the huge gas stove. I built the shelves for the glass spice-jars, and then I put in the wire-hung 12-volt lighting.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Yes. It would be great if I could finish anything, but I can’t. I have everything at 95%, and nothing complete. That’s me. I can’t finish anythi.
Which is why I find it a great idea to invite people for dinner, and I’ve really outdone myself this time.
How, Bock? How? How? How did you outdo yourself?
Oh, simple. I’m having another gang of people for dinner, but this time they include a professional chef, a decent woman who was kind enough to advise me at the planning stage of this project. Now, I’m a reasonably good cook, but serving food to a chef is a different matter altogether, especially if you’re the useless bastard who couldn’t even finish building the fucking kitchen.
If I added that the crowd also includes an architect friend who did the original re-imagining of the house for me and hasn’t seen it in three years, you’d probably see how frightened I am of being found out.
Terror is a great thing, which is why already, this evening, I’ve made and fitted those shelves that were supposed to be done six months ago.