Builder boyfriend

Real life | 18 July 2019

For a while, it seemed as if the only words my beloved would ever say again were ‘chicken Kievs’. Two hours of operating a strimmer to clear the undergrowth from the electric fencing around my field had left the builder boyfriend either deaf or so hungry he could only think about his favourite meal. Every question I asked elicited the same two words, until I thought the best thing was to get him home and feed him chicken Kievs. So I hurried to the One Stop and swept every pack they had off the shelves. He sat down at the table looking peculiar and ate his way through four breaded

Real life | 6 June 2019

No sooner had the builder boyfriend finished digging for no good reason in the basement than his attention turned to the old but perfectly good downstairs loo. I don’t know why he does this. I didn’t want the basement dug and I certainly did not want anything done to my downstairs loo. It is, or should I say was, a rough but functional affair just off the kitchen, accessed via a small step down into the utility and larder area — turn right at the fridge, et voilà. Well, we all love an en suite. The idea that you can move seamlessly from one enterprise to another, perhaps taking out

Real life | 25 April 2019

‘That’s not the builder boyfriend,’ said the luncheon guest as he eyed the builder boyfriend over the table. ‘Well then, who do you think it is?’ I asked the gentleman, who was sitting next to me with a bemused expression on his face. He had put down his fork and abandoned his fettuccine completely after I let slip that his favourite character was seated opposite. He shook his head. ‘No, no. That can’t be the builder boyfriend. He’s got a Countryside Alliance badge on his lapel. He’s not dressed like a builder.’ ‘Funnily enough,’ I said, ‘I make him wear clean clothes when we go out. Were you expecting him

Real life | 28 March 2019

‘This clean sock regime is really annoying,’ said the builder boyfriend, as he rummaged through his newly inaugurated top drawer. I had toyed with the idea of giving him two small drawers as I did last time he graced my domestic arrangements with his presence. But this time I gave him the entire chest: that’s four drawers in total. That’s a lot of commitment on my part and a fair amount on his, too. It scared him, understandably. ‘You’ll be wanting rent next,’ he said, grinning sardonically. ‘Aren’t you pleased, having all your clothes so nicely arranged?’ I had put everything away for him while he was at work and

Real life | 5 October 2017

How reassuringly like old times it is, going to a God-forsaken retail park with Stefano. We mooch about the DIY store together like an old couple, me with a face like thunder, he quietly pointing out boring things that we need like door handles, whispering the price, knowing exactly when I am liable to blow up. It doesn’t seem five minutes since he was a brave young adventurer from the wilds of Albania making his way in London, colliding with me one day while painting the outside of my neighbour’s house. I pounced on him and got him to paint the outside of my house as well, then made him

Real life | 7 September 2017

Stefano the Albanian turned up in a brand new Audi off-roader, cutting quite the dash. He looked older, with some silver flecks in his black hair and beard that were rather distinguished. How to explain my predicament? It was tricky. I hadn’t been in touch since I’d asked him for a quote to renovate the ‘dream’ cottage. But then the builder boyfriend submitted his tender for the work, and talked me round. I argued vociferously that we would only fall out and that made the stakes too high. But the BB insisted. He made it a matter of his honour. He could not allow another builder to build on what

Real life | 6 July 2017

Last night, I had dinner at the M25 services. I don’t mean I stopped for a break mid-journey. I mean I purposefully got into my car and drove from my house to a service station on the M25 because it was the only place to eat. This is not quite what I envisaged when I left London for the countryside. I imagined cosy meals in welcoming pubs. But of course the reality is that everything in the sticks shuts at an unknowable hour that changes every evening, so no matter what time you turn up the staff are cleaning the counter down. I don’t have a kitchen yet. The house

Real life | 25 May 2017

After spending the day unblocking the gutters and drains in the pouring rain, he wasn’t in the mood for a parking dispute. He rang me while I was at work to tell me he had been ‘firm but fair’ with the lady who told him to move my car from the space slightly to the side of my house. ‘Jeepers creepers,’ I thought, ‘the builder boyfriend’s only gone and blown a fuse with the locals in our second week.’ Look, we’ve come from Lambeth. We understand parking problems. I’m used to walking from Streatham, where I parked every day for 12 years to avoid charges of £300 a year to

Real life | 18 May 2017

The builder boyfriend has dug himself a hole. I don’t mean he’s in trouble with me. I mean he has literally dug himself a hole, in our new backyard. Since we moved in he has been digging there, sinking deeper into the earth on the lower ground floor level until he has almost disappeared. At first he dug happily, then diligently, then like a man possessed. Sweat dripping from his brow, swearwords from his lips, he dug and dug, piling up earth, rock, brick and crazy paving in a huge pile in my cottage garden. Any time I dared to ask what he was doing, he yelled for tea with

Real life | 11 May 2017

Well, there were seven of us in this chain, so it was a bit crowded, to paraphrase a princess. We didn’t know there were seven. We thought there were five. Imagine my confusion, therefore, when my house sale and purchase didn’t go through day after day, despite all five lawyers being on the phone to each other in conference calls trying to exchange contracts, and the contracts just refusing to be exchanged. Every day, at 5.30 p.m., my solicitor would call me and tell me it was no go. And the next morning I would ring the estate agents and say I couldn’t understand it. I’ve been under offer since

Real life | 16 March 2017

Someone has given the builder boyfriend an iPhone and things will never be the same. Until now, he has always had a ‘rubbish’ phone and I have always been able to get hold of him. Even though I have a blasted iPhone myself, at least one of us used to have a communications device that made and received calls. His ‘rubbish’ phone was some kind of ancient Nokia or first-generation Samsung — you know, the kind with no access to the internet. It worked. When I had a BlackBerry, we had as near perfect communication as any couple could wish for. He would call me, I would answer, or vice

Real life | 9 March 2017

If it takes any longer to find a buyer for my London flat I am going to start coming to the conclusion that it is perfect for me in my old age. Forget moving to a cottage with a vertiginous staircase in the inhospitable countryside, this two-bedroom apartment minutes from the hustle and bustle is just the thing for an aging couple like the builder boyfriend and me. ‘Think about it,’ said the BB the other evening, as we sat in my cosy living room, he nursing the usual aches and pains he brings home after a hard day on a roof. ‘This is just what we need. It’s handy

Real life | 23 February 2017

Unexpectedly re-available is a very good phrase. I have often seen it applied to house advertisements and thought how fabulously impertinent it sounds, so I am asking the agents to attach it to the description of my flat now that it is back on the market after a right old hoo-ha with the buyer from hell. Unexpectedly re-available is a grammatical tongue-twister, and a euphemism that manages to be both enigmatic and facetious at the same time. I also like it because it speaks to me on a personal level. I have been unexpectedly re-available countless times and I wish I had thought of saying so whenever I went on

Real life | 9 February 2017

The builder boyfriend declared himself very happy with his £65 pee. He insisted it was good value for money because it was reduced from £130 if we paid within 28 days. Some would say that is still extortion, but the BB insisted he was a totally satisfied customer. He was also unfazed by the fact that Transport for London issued me with two fines for stopping on a red route in Elsynge Road for 30 seconds so he could relieve himself. This is because he didn’t have the bother of sorting it all out. The two fines had two different serial numbers so the total cost of the pee might

Real life | 2 February 2017

As if by magic, a sign that I am doing the right thing by moving out of London arrived in the post. And not a moment too soon, for with all the to-ing and fro-ing over arcane anomalies in the floorplan of my flat I had become so heartily sick of the conveyancing process I was almost ready to jack the whole move in. Two identical, suspiciously thin and official-looking A5 sized envelopes arrived at the same time. This is either the Inland Revenue telling me I am going to jail for believing that half-asleep guy at their call centre who told me I shouldn’t worry too much about my

Real life | 8 December 2016

‘Right, this is it,’ I said to the builder boyfriend. ‘I am going to knock on the door of next door.’ ‘I don’t know why you are bothering,’ he said. ‘Does it really matter who lives next door? You’re going to be so happy here. This move makes absolute sense for you. Just look around. It’s fantastic.’ And so it was. We were standing in front of my new house. If it all goes through I will be in for Christmas. I looked around me: England’s largest village green. And my new house nestling right on the front of it, overlooking the cricket, and the farmers’ market …an idyllic scene.

Real life | 20 October 2016

After the Fawlty Towers incident, I decided it was best to research the origin and extraction of all future B&B guests on arrival, before the builder boyfriend got stuck in. You may remember that he accidentally on purpose got a piece of gaffa tape caught on his top lip and held some ceiling felt at a jaunty angle during the stay of the Airbnb customers from Bavaria. Thankfully, they were in another room and didn’t see but I had to shush him because he was making a bad job of whispering, ‘Don’t mention Brexit! I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it!’ A girl from Taiwan

Real life | 1 September 2016

‘Oh no, I can’t bear it,’ said the builder boyfriend when I told him I wanted to look at one more house with land. I have dragged him round too many one-bedroomed hovels with a few scrub acres out the back. We have had to be polite about too many dilapidated sheds which the owners are calling a stable block. We have had to think of too many ways to compliment a rotten pole barn, or a patch of bare earth and weeds a vendor claims is a sand school. We have smiled at too many bathroom taps in the shape of shells. We have said ‘Oo lovely!’ at too

Real life | 11 August 2016

The builder boyfriend colicked for a week after eating a falafel kebab as he and I sat up all night with the colicking pony. And unlike the colicking pony, who was attended to by the vet and given intravenous Buscopan, the colicking builder boyfriend moaned and groaned in agony, untreated. If he had a GP he couldn’t remember who or where it was. He has not sought any kind of healthcare, nor seen the inside of a hospital, since a gang of thugs broke both his arms when he was a ten-year-old boy growing up on the mean streets of Balham. (That was the real Balham, before the independent hipster

Real life | 4 August 2016

One look at Grace when I went to get her in from the field, and I knew she had eaten herself to the verge of oblivion. Leaving the horses kicking their heels up in the field, while we went to France for a break from them, was always going to have mixed results. This is because, like Jack Sprat and his wife, one eats too much while the other eats too little. While Darcy the thoroughbred picks daintily at the grass, the pony is as greedy as Mr Creosote in Monty Python. I have known Gracie to eat so much she has burped. And horses, it is well known, cannot