Me Build Stuff Good

October 13, 2008 at 8:02 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Llew’s such a handy man. It’s fantastic living with someone who has a clue about these things; I can often see what needs doing, but have no chance of actually doing it myself, and so it was with the shelves. We are running a little short on space, which is ridiculous because we’re just two and whole extended families live in dwellings half the size of our apartment, but it’s true. My office hogs the biggest room in the place, so the living space is a little squeezed, and utterly sans storage.

This would be less of a problem if Llew and I periodically threw out unused gadgets, unread school essays and whatever is in those treasure chests I’m almost too afraid to open, but a lack of storage requires a ruthlessness I do not possess. Am I ever going be in the position – let alone the mood – to listen to that Billy Bragg cassette tape from 1991? I don’t know, but just try prising it from my death-grip. Those council clean-ups come round and round, and every time I think, “I should throw everything out. All of it. I don’t need any of this stuff. I just want to live in an empty room. A nice, big, totally empty room. That’s all I want.” But do I do it? No. I don’t. I step over the archive boxes and stub my toes on the corner of the treasure chest, and I ask myself what on earth it was I meant to do…  

If you can’t be ruthless, then you need an innovative solution. Now, I haven’t the faintest clue how to do-it-myself, but Llew is the maestro, the champion, the king of DIY. Llew’s great at it, and it doesn’t bother me even a little bit that I’m not (which is unlike me, as I can be a very sore loser. Or at least, generally speaking, I despise being hopeless at things, although you’d think I’d be used to it by now, what with all my experience). I just sit back whenever an outbreak of DIY strikes Chez J and watch the wizard at work, occasionally applauding his genius and doing the pie run at half-time. 

I do really love some of our things. Certain artworks, pieces of furniture, and of course my beautiful books, all bring me an almost spiritual contentment. They are the texture of our lives, and I derive great pleasure from them. But when I walked into Sarah’s pristine, perfect apartment on Saturday night, I very nearly collapsed in worship before a very different altar. Sarah’s place is immaculate. So spotless, and so uncluttered. Yes, she has the advantage of being able to deliver everything she doesn’t currently want or need to her mum and dad’s house, that supreme storage solution so beloved of millions of children, but the result is so blissful and so blinding that you don’t really cling to the reasonable explanation for how someone can actually  live like this. You don’t care. All you really want right at that moment is to swap places. 

But because Llew and I aren’t capable of creating that picture perfect world (give me half an hour; I’d stain that gleaming couch and scratch those limey floorboards before the door was even closed), we have to create the means to live more harmoniously with our things. And we love records. I actually love looking at vinyl records almost as much as I love listening to them (yes, I’m completely serious). There’s something wonderful about them, and ever since Llew inherited his grandfather Lionel’s record player, we have been slowly building a small selection. We haven’t listened to a single CD since we got the record player. Not one. They’re completely obsolete as far as we’re concerned, so now all they do is take up precious, precious space. Of course, the records take up space too, and here’s where the problem arises, because up until yesterday, there was something so unsightly, so undergraduate about their storage unit. You guessed it: milk crates. Ack. 

But a few weeks ago I shared my record storage solution with Llew. It would be a space maximiser, aesthetically pleasing, of a simple but effective design, and of course it would achieve the utmost utility. I would never have been able to create the shelves myself, but I had no problem dreamin’ them up. I’m not bad spatially, perhaps because space intrigues me on all levels conceptually, but I’m hopeless with the nuts and bolts execution. Nonetheless, my idea was solid, and I was sold, so I made my pitch to Llew, and he gave it the all-important handyman seal of approval. So over the weekend, whilst I was in here working, Llewie went off to the hardware store (how does he even know what to buy once he gets there?? I haven’t the faintest idea, but he does it very manfully!), came back, and built our sunroom shelves from scratch. It must be so satisfying to build something with your own two hands like that. Llew’s genuinely great at it, he really did a terrific job, and our record storage shelves – a combined J-team effort of thought and deed – are absolutely rocking. They’re fantastic, exactly as I’d imagined, and the milk crates went out last night. Who knew storage could be so satisfying?



  1. kate said,

    You guys make a great team!!

  2. doctordi said,

    Sometimes we think so too. Other times we think we need to be sent to naughty corners at opposite ends of the house.

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