I can think of a million and one lovely things to do on a beautiful, sunny Saturday. The Teenager is spending the day with his dad and I have the house, and time, to myself. There are museums to visit, shops to look round in and I need to pick up some books from the library. So why am I dressed in builders gear, thick gloves and Timberland boots, twirling a spirit level?
The good news is, I seem to be in remission at long last and a builder friend needs a bit of help with a last-minute job. It’s all quite technical, but it involves two steel lintels, lots of cement, nails and bits of wood. If the job isn’t done properly, the house will collapse in on itself. Or something.
My main roles are chief sweeper-upper and go-fetch-from-the-van person. After a long week of office work and study, it’s surprisingly good fun, this building malarky. I think I sometimes forget how satisfying it can be to do physical work, never more so than after months and months of mind-numbing exhaustion from a relapse. Suddenly, I feel refreshingly, alarmingly, gobsmackingly alive. My arms and legs seem to be behaving and I’m actually doing something useful.
Plus, I get coffee, breakfast, lunch and the odd Snickers bar thrown in – always a bonus. When I’m dropped home, I rush to the shower and it’s never been a nicer one. I’ve had an excellent day and I feel as if I’ve had a full-body workout – another bonus. So now, as I am about to lounge on my sofa for the rest of the evening, I kind of feel I deserve it.
Would I give up the day job though? Not a chance. My friend’s last job was fixing a roof. In torrential rain.