Seven months into retirement - and Stuart Barber is already considering DIY to fill the time...

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It’s only been seven months and a bit since I retired, but I’m already finding it hard to find things to do with my time.

Things that I want to do that is.

I’ve got the housekeeping down to a slick routine; the weekly shop is an exercise executed with such precision the military would be jealous; and the garden is tidier than it has been in years.

So there I was wondering if re-newing my golf membership, joining a gym or investing in a bike to take advantage of the miles of cycle paths that have been created around the district are realistic options, when Mrs B takes the need for a quick decision out of my hands by coming home from a day out with her pal with a boot load of self-assembly furniture.

Decades ago I remember interviewing one of the Falkirk squad which had just won the championship and promotion to the top league under Jim Jefferies.

I asked him if I would be right in thinking this would rank as the greatest achievement of his life so far, but was quickly put right.

“No”, he said, “putting together a flat-pack wardrobe and not having any bits left at the end will always be hard to beat.”

All these years later I know exactly what he was talking about.

The sense of satisfaction from creating something as wonderous and useful as a piece of decorative storage from a pile of squares and rectangles made out of compressed sawdust is awesome.

It’s hard work mind you, and a task designed to tax your patience.

Even although the manufacturer has tried to help you find your way by providing a substantial book of instructions on how to assemble the picture on the box, the flat-pack challenge is a serious one.

The ‘do this first and this next’ guide is accompanied by sketches, which I think have been scribbled down by enthusiastic kiddies at playgroup, which show how it should look at the end of ‘stage one, stage two’ and so on, but it is inevitable mistakes will be made first time, and probably even second time, round so you have to be prepared so unscrew something that’s taken ages to screw together in the first place after you realise you have bolted Part A to Part B the wrong way round or wrong way up.

On my latest ‘mission’ – to build two four-drawer chests from the pile of bits scattered on the bedroom floor in front of me – I lost the plot more than once, then compounded that by making the big mistake of deciding the instructions were wrong. This simply led to me discovering the hard way that ignoring a few steps completely is not the way to go and inevitably takes you back to square one.

I got there in the end of course, and the feeling of pride at a job well done was such that for the next few days I went on and on about it to everyone I met.

Boasting about my skills with a screwdriver and hammer have, of course, backfired big style. I’ve just been advised that now I’ve proved capable, I can be trusted with a few more projects which will transfrom other rooms in the house. The list is being drawn up as I write so it’s likely the golf, gym and bike runs will have to be put on hold for a while yet.