Home Life: House Doctor

A ST VALENTINE'S DIY singles evening in the local B&Q might not be everyone's idea of a chance to meet destiny, but it's happening, apparently, all over the country. This appearance of the building materials industry in the "heartsearch and romance" columns is not because DIY has become the new rock-and-roll - whatever you read in the papers - but because of the large numbers of twenty and thirty-something single people who have been cajoled onto the home-buying treadmill, and who don't have the slightest idea about how to look after their property. When they were arranging the mortgage, nobody took them aside to point out that home ownership entailed the upkeep of a few hundred tonnes of assorted bricks, mortar, plaster, timber, slates, copper pipes and cables - for richer or poorer - till they flogged it on to someone else.

And it is not just single women who find themselves overawed with this responsibility. Since woodwork and metalwork are no longer taught in schools, there are also plenty of men who lack the basic skills required for home maintenance. So this crop of vulnerable young people can be found wandering the aisles of the DIY cathedrals, seeking solace; what better idea than to get them paired off with one another? It won't lessen the responsibilities of their property ownership, but at least they can be frightened and vulnerable together.

Apart from this initiative, love and sex are not normally things with which the construction industry is associated. The predominantly male culture of the building trades means that chances for meeting heterosexual partners at work are limited. No doubt there are plenty of gay couples whose eyes first met across a crowded site hut, but that sort of thing is not talked about. Attitudes to women remain firmly Neanderthal, and boys who start work in the building game are presented with some powerful role models to follow.

The chief one of these is the tattooed oaf leaning out of the passenger window of the van, whose job is to shout sexual abuse at every female figure within earshot, sometimes accompanied by the driver sounding his horn. Another is the labourer who whistles at passing women from the scaffolding. The success of a wolf whistle is judged by its ability to get a woman to turn her head and look, and I once worked with a labourer who had made this into an art form - his finger-and-thumb in the mouth technique was so powerful that he could draw attention to himself over half a mile. Unfortunately for him, women over the age of 15 have mostly conditioned themselves not to react to whistling, so his world-beating F- sharp tended to turn the heads mostly of dogs and policemen. It was a hell of a whistle, though.

Another type of sexual encounter which figures prominently in building site lore is the woman who strips off in front of the window. Although these stories are largely anecdotal, there have been a sufficient number of authenticated cases to keep builders' hopes up; I once worked on a job where a woman in the flats opposite did, indeed, stand in the window and reveal all. The effect this had on the builders was not at all what you'd expect; men who spent their days jeering at women out of the van window, and whistling at them from the scaffolding, became strangely subdued when confronted face-on with the object of their desires, and there were even mutterings about indecency and unacceptable behaviour. No Valentine's cards for her, then.

Jeff@doctoronthehouse.demon.co.uk

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick