With the partial renovation of the kitchen imminent, I had to bite the bullet and drive to a DIY shop yesterday. Two of them in fact. They are more rightly known as ‘Warehouses’ here, as they are quite cavernous, and industrial inside. We went with the intention of choosing tiles and paint.
For my part, I went with the intention of watching my wife choose both tiles and paint, so that I could never be accused of deciding on the wrong style and colour, no matter how long I lived.
Off we went, to the branch of B&Q (No, I don’t know what it stands for) in the town of Fakenham.
For someone like me, they are the strangest of all shops. I am uncomfortable in them, feeling all at sea. I watch the other customers as they choose huge sheets of wood, weigh up different power tools on the displays, and confidently load large barrows with piles of fixings and metal clips that I don’t even know the function of. Some are undoubtedly regulars, heading straight for the rows of this or that, knowing which direction to head in, and picking up exactly what they need.
Men are supposed to feel at home in such shops. They are even expected to be excited at being able to visualise their next project, and looking at improved tools and labour-saving devices. The TV advertisements portray the customers being able to revamp a garden almost overnight, or create a futuristic kitchen over a weekend. I see none of that. Instead, I see things I don’t understand, tools I have no skill in using, or desire to learn how, and endless hours of DIY drudgery as I attempt to end up with a result that is even halfway pleasing.
I am missing that part of my masculinity, I have no doubt. Or perhaps I am just realistic, and aware of my limitations.
Not for them the aisle-by-aisle circuit forced upon me by my lack of knowledge of the shop’s geography, not helped by a Covid-19 inspired one-way-system in place that meant more than one unnecessary loop to get back to tiles or paint. After a great deal of comparison of tiles in colours that looked very similar to me, a choice was made. As luck would have it, bad luck in this case, they only had one box of our choice in stock, and we needed five. So it would mean a trip on another day to the much larger branch in Norwich.
They didn’t have the paint we wanted in the colour we wanted either. They had the exact paint in huge quantities in almost any colour known to man, but not in the Ivory ‘we’ had chosen. We had to settle for two packs of kitchen doorknobs, and a plastic storage box. God forbid we could have left empty-handed.
It was decided to go back into Dereham, to the smaller DIY store called Homebase.
They didn’t have the tiles, but they did have the paint. Fortunately, they did not stock the same doorknobs or storage boxes, so it was agreed that our trip to Fakenham must have been worthwhile.
I would honestly have felt more comfortable in the female lingerie department of Marks and Spencer. I am far more familiar with ladies’ underwear than power tools and plasterboard.