Some of my readers have been impressed by my skill in plumbing in washing machines and fitting mortise locks to kitchen doors this week.
Indeed, someone said to me on Twitter last night that my DIY skills were making them feel bad.
This post is for you.
Because, as it happens, I told a, erm, slightly edited version of events. A version that may have led you to the entirely erroneous opinion that I am a sane, competent adult. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s true that last week I bought a new washing machine. I did bring the thing home in my car and manage to get it from the garage into the kitchen and attached to both power and water supplies. I did also fit a mortise lock to my kitchen door yesterday.
What I didn’t share was what links those two events.
It all started when I turned on the new washing machine, without realising I’d left the transport bolts in the back of the machine. For the uninitiated, transport bolts are metal bolts that are drilled through the back of a new washing machine, and which hold the drum steady during transit. If you don’t remove them before turning on the machine, the drum can’t turn and eventually the motor will burn out.
Before that happens, your new washing machine will bounce around the utility room like a demented rabbit, making the most GOD AWFUL sound you can imagine. I haven’t ever tried one out, but I imagine standing on the ground floor of my house that day was akin to one of those vibro-plate exercise machines.
After a few minutes, you’ll realise something isn’t quite right, and you’ll wrestle with the machine long enough to climb on top of it, reach down and switch it off at the socket. It helps if you have a four-year-old watching at this point, who can make helpful remarks like, “Have you broken another one, Mummy?”
For a few minutes you’ll feel relieved the machine isn’t broken. You’ll take the bolts out, put back some screws that fell out of the machine because of the vibration, and you’ll put a wash on.
Success. Until the four-year-old starts weeping.
“What’s the matter?”
“I want to go the downstairs toilet, but I can’t open the door.”
“Oh, don’t be silly, of course you can,” I reply.
You’d think I’d know by now never to say things like that, because I’m almost always about to be proved wrong.
The downstairs bathroom door was indeed locked. From the inside. The vibrations from the washing machine had caused the door to vibrate so much that it had locked itself – from the inside.
I tried removing the door handle, to see if I could poke a coat hanger through the gap and somehow ‘hook’ the lock. No dice. Next, I removed the beading from one of the panels on the door to see if I could ‘pop’ out the panel. But the panel was fixed at both sides of the door, so that didn’t work. I tried drilling a hole in the door above the lock, but the door – an original Victorian panel door – just started to split.
So I did what anyone would do in that situation.
I put on my safety goggles (given my history, I'm a big believer in safety accessories) and took a sledgehammer to the door. It was just like the “Here’s Johnny” scene in Psycho. With more swearing.
The bathroom door went in the skip and I salvaged the mortise for the kitchen door, which has been without a handle since it was fitted because I’ve been hunting for an original Victorian mortise to match the others in the house.
So there’s a happy ending, of sorts. And if anyone needs any firewood, there’s a smashed up door in the skip outside my garage you're more than welcome to.