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  • Writer's picturebobbury

A bodger and proud of it!

We have just returned from a week away in a large house in the Forest of Dean with all the family, to celebrate our golden wedding – yes, very nice, thanks for asking. Anyway, while we were away, it was very windy in Leeds, and when we got home we discovered that one section of our fence had blown down. It was a section that runs parallel and very close to our neighbour's garage wall. It had fallen down in the past, and I had fixed it using a screw into the garage wall and some garden wire. it was this repair that had given way in the teeth of a northerly gale – not altogether surprisingly, you may think.

So, while my wife and daughter were unwinding with a post-holiday gin, I went into the cellar, and after rooting around at the bottom of several drawers to find the necessary bits and bobs, went out to put things right. I beefed up the repair by substituting a brass screw-in eye for the previous wood screw, screwing an old bracket to the fence and linking the two using the bodger's vade mecum – a length cut from a wire coat hanger. Feeling pleased with myself, I went back indoors and told the ladies of the house that there was no need to Get a Man In – the fence had been restored to the vertical.

Now my wife is not a weak woman, she can tolerate almost anything; indeed, having survived 50 years married to me, it could hardly be otherwise. However, the sight of me emerging from the cellar, Black and Decker in hand and with a determined expression on my face is enough to have her reaching for the valium, and not without cause – it has to be admitted that I am to DIY as King Herod was to childcare. So it was only to be expected that when I announced my ingenious fence repair, rather than expressing admiration at yet another manly task successfully accomplished, she looked up from her G&T and said, rather sourly, I thought, "I expect you've bodged it again?"

But do you know what? – I didn't care. I maintain that any fool can do a job given a bit of know-how, the right tools and the appropriate spare parts; it is the determination to accomplish a task without any of these prerequisites that sets the bodger apart from the rest of humanity. This Blue Peter approach to DIY is not only much more fun than 'doing things properly', it also allows modern man* to exercise that part of his brain that used to be so important in the days before instruction manuals, when keeping your family clothed and safe from predators, finding that sharpened stones will cut meat, and discovering fire was all seat of the pants stuff. Now that Barratt's build our houses for us, and squirrels and foxes are the nearest we get to big game, it's all too easy to allow that instinct for improvisation to wither away.

I recall once, many years ago, inadvertently finding myself tackling a job using the right tools and spare parts, and with an illustrated how-to-do-it manual at my side. Naturally, it went like a dream. "There you are" said my other half, "see how easy it is when you do it properly". But I found it strangely unsatisfying – a bit like beating Stevie Wonder at snooker – so yes, I'm proud to belong to the happy band of bodgers. I might start a club.

*And it's always men – I've yet to meet a female bodger. (I hope I'm allowed to say that – I wouldn't want to be cancelled, not at my age).

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