I WAKE at 2am – a frequent occurrence these days – and ask myself yet again why on earth I chose tan checked blinds for the big chapel windows in the two new guest bedrooms. They won’t go with the neutral, dare I say beige, tones of the furnishings and paintwork. I recall there were some lovely soft browny coloured ones that would have been so much better. Then we unroll them and lo and behold they are the lovely pale browny ones: in fact they’re perfect. Except – they’re 12 feet high and Ian won’t be able to hang them because the fittings are wrong, he hasn’t got the right drill, he needs to hammer yards of wood into the new plasterwork, there’ll be holes in the wall and they’ll fall down. Or he will, and break his neck. They don’t, and he doesn’t. They hang perfectly. For about five minutes. “*****” comes the cry. As he pulls the cord it snaps and wraps itself round the fitting at the top. We phone John Lewis who sold them to us, the manufacturers, and a man in a van on his way to Hexham who knows about these things. By the time I’ve argued, cajoled, and begged them to send an expert before Saturday when paying guests arrive, Ian announces the problem’s solved. Bingo.

Meanwhile we’ve discovered a bend in the new bookshelves, the bathroom accessories haven’t been fixed because Ian was going to do them but has run out of time, and while the televisions in the two guest rooms are working fine, we can’t get a decent picture anywhere else in the house. At the final hour, it’s all falling apart and I’m in despair. Then Andrew arrives, finds a few more little glitches that need fixing, and tell us he’ll send David before the end of the week. All will be well.

As he leaves, Gina ‘phones from Bristol: “How’s it going?” she asks. I tell her about Andrew’s visit and say everything’s fine, no problems whatsoever, and the tiny little niggles we did have are being sorted. “That’s amazing. You’re the only person I know who’s still speaking to their builder at the end of a project. He must be good.” 

Back in the bedrooms Ian is admiring his handiwork. The blinds are working perfectly. “Pity about the bland colour,” he says. “I think we could have done with something brighter. A bit more – you know, terracotta-ish.” I think he means tan.


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