The Builder Boyfriend has nearly moved in. I say nearly because we are both quite nervous about committing to each other so we are doing it piecemeal. I don’t know why people say ‘never do anything by halves’ because doing things by halves has saved my sanity on many occasions.
In this case, the builder and I are dividing our time and our possessions between my flat in London and the converted barn rental in Surrey. This means if one of us gets cross with the other we simply split up and inhabit them separately.
There was a third option, the builder’s house in Wimbledon, but this needed so much doing to it on account of his ‘builder renovate thyself’ neglect — it doesn’t even have a kitchen, he was meaning to put one in but never got round to it — that I refused to have anything to do with it.
Since letting it go, the builder has refused to move any of his stuff into my London flat, where space is tight, in case I get exasperated. As such, he stores his possessions when we are staying there in a black bucket. The black bucket stands in the spare room as I write and contains a rugby shirt, two pairs of socks and a pair of jeans. It is commendable how little he needs to put in his bucket at any given time. (I am turning a blind eye to the pair of builder’s boots he has left in the hallway.)
In the country, where we have more space, I have allowed him a small cupboard in a recess in the slanting roof of the bedroom. When I assigned it to him, I thought he was going to be cross but he crouched down, looked into the dark space full of electrical wiring and pipes, grinned and said, ‘Hmm, well, it’s a start.’
This is why I love him. He knows that it is pointless to stamp his feet and shout: ‘You expect me to keep all my belongings in there?’
Because he stays calm and takes my puny little olive branch of compromise, knowing it is all I can manage, slowly but surely we will get there in the end.
By the way, as we enter this new and exciting phase of our relationship, I am thinking of patenting The Builder Boyfriend. This is because I have noticed of late a tendency by certain other female magazine columnists to claim that they have a builder boyfriend.
Whilst plagiarism is, of course, the sincerest form of flattery, I am quite cross about it. I’m not upset for myself, so much as for him. He is the original and best Builder Boyfriend and we cannot have imposters blithely going around other magazine columns claiming they are The Builder Boyfriend too.
Clearly, he needs copyrighting. And before you say ‘how callous. Fancy treating your beloved like a commodity to be registered at the Patent Office,’ he fully supports this.
‘Did I, or did I not invent you?’ I ask him, as we tuck into a bowl of spaghetti bolognese one night. ‘What madness are you on about now, you loon,’ he says.
‘I’m being serious. A female columnist in this magazine here’ [and I slam the mag down in front of him] ‘is claiming that she has a builder boyfriend.’
‘What?’ he yells, spilling spaghetti sauce down his chin as he snatches up the magazine. ‘That’s outrageous. I’m the builder boyfriend.’
According to the Intellectual Property Office, all new inventions must be ‘new’ and ‘inventive’. Check.
Patent protection is not available for natural processes, such as the law of gravity. Right, well, I may have to gloss over the fact that when he comes home in the evening and starts singing Queen anthems while dancing with the spaniel, the builder is a bit of a force of nature.
I must submit an application fee of £30, non-refundable, with an outline of the Patent Specification — a description of the invention, with ‘drawings, legal claims and a summary of important technical aspects’.
Hmm. How about: ‘Builder Boyfriend. A romantic partner who offers emotional support and companionship while also fixing things about the house. No job too big or small. No trauma or day-to-day upset too complicated. Performs back rubs, foot rubs, minor rewiring jobs (both electrical and psychiatric). All pointless building work including luxury summer rabbit houses undertaken without complaint. Rugged and handsome yet takes up very little space. Stores possessions in one small bucket!’
I ask the builder if he likes his specification. He peruses it before saying, ‘Cars. You haven’t said that I fix your car. And muck out the horses. And run errands, like picking up parmesan.’ I’m feeling guilty now. I may need to get him a bigger bucket.
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