The Nocturnal Dad | Episode 8 | Have You Seen Our House?

Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…The Nocturnal Idiot.

Since dealing with some life-purpose-soul searching important stuff and feeling temporarily all the better for it, I have now plunged my family into a materialistic-first-world-problem catastrophe. This will sound like a late Halloween special for parents with small children but it’s been our reality for the last three weeks. Large hole. No water. No electric. No hot food. Washing up in the bathtub. For all of half term and a week either side.

A few years ago I would have read this and thought; ‘you’re lucky to have a house mate, let alone money to spend on a new kitchen. There are people that don’t have a roof over their heads and rely on food banks to feed their kids, you out of touch bell end.’ But, we are lucky. We borrowed the world, got on the ladder, held down jobs, had some kids, became fringe-middle class, then fringe- middle aged and finally saved enough actual cash money for an Ikea Kitchen. Living the dream.

Our house is an old mid-terrace with an ancient galley kitchen that has an inexplicable, nasty concrete slab for a floor. When we moved in we restored the rest of the downstairs back to the original boards. But on discovering the concrete slab, I just groaned and covered it with a large mat for five years hoping it might go away.

Then a few weeks ago, Rock Solid (my wife – see previous episodes for explanation of pseudonym) dropped the bomb. “Let’s get the kitchen done”. When I think of building work of any kind it fills me with fear and anxiety because I am beyond useless. Not just useless at DIY but useless at understanding anything at all to do with building or fixing things, beyond Lego. I am however, good at pointing at things that need doing and I am a good judge of character. Or so I thought.

After getting quotes in from reputable companies we realised that we didn’t have enough budget. Apparently taking up 100-year old floor boards and repurposing them in another part of the house onto a floor that is 10 inches of concrete, costs money. So some friends recommended a guy, not to do the floor but to rip out the old kitchen and drill out and prep the space. He came around to do a quote and surprised us by saying he could do the lot at a far lower price than we had previously been quoted. He explained his plan and it sounded perfectly feasible. He was polite, sincere and confident and we had him on recommendation that he was good (at some stuff). “He’s great, isn’t he?“ And such a nice guy?” Rock Solid asked me.  “He’s very good” I said in a knowing, affirmative tone that suggested I regularly signed off on building contractors.

 

On day one of the job I came home to find the old kitchen gone, the back wall plastered and the top layer of concrete drilled out. “He’s very good” I reaffirmed the family over a Pot Noodle and toast tea. Happy days! On day two of the job I was at work when I got a call which went something like this;

Builder: “We have a small problem, can you come and have a chat”

Me: “Sorry, I’m at work, my wife’s out with the kids as it’s half term, what’s the problem?”

Builder: “You know the work I said I would do? I am either completely out of my depth and can’t do it or I knew I had no idea and I blagged it. Either way, you are a mug and I need your help in figuring out what to do next. Thanks for the up-front 70% payment in cash, by the way”

How could we have got this guy so wrong? What type of idiot quotes for work he has no idea how to do? What do we do now? Will eating take aways every night for three weeks stunt my children’s growth? Why is there an angle grinder in my 3 year olds hands? Is that pasta floating in my bath?

Rock Solid is very particular when it comes to interior design so my suggested fix of cementing the crater back in and sticking some Lino on top was met with the look of a cold blooded killer. So, by day, we spent half term in wood salvage yards searching for 90-year-old floor boards of the right size and style to match. By night, we watched Netflix, crammed in two feet from the screen eating Domino’s pizza, surrounded by masonry debris and dust.

It’s a weird feeling being well and truly mugged. I have thankfully never been mugged in the street. But I wondered if being mugged in your own home might actually be worse. I’d have happily taken a black eye and handed over my phone instead of this carnage and cost. But perhaps worse still has been the look on young Drama and Rib Kickers faces as the whole thing unfolded. It is a look that asks “Dad, why have you let this bloke, who you think is a cowboy but doesn’t look anything like Woody, into our house and what the hell is he doing to it, you total idiot?”.

Thankfully, at the eleventh hour, we were able to call in the cavalry in the form of an old family friend to do the work and save the day. Soon we will be able to cook food again and the recycling bin, at the expense of a dip in Dominos profits, will be accessible once more. I will be able to take a pasta free bath and my sons will, in time, forget that I employed a real life cowboy to destroy their half-term fun and empty their parent’s pockets.

The moral of this story is simple and in perfect juxtaposition to my previous episode – don’t be an idiot, leave the carpet where it is and pretend what’s underneath it will go away.

Missed previous episodes? Catch up with The Nocturnal Dad’s adventures here

Follow the @TheNocturnalDad on Twitter – this man needs as much help as he can get.

Illustration by Dominic Murray @no_subs_blog

 

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