Claudia Winkleman: Take It From Me

'Liz Taylor married a senator, a Hilton heir, Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton, but it was a builder who really broke her heart'

Share

Let me set the scene...

INTERIOR: Camera pans up to reveal a house in a state of total disarray. There are paint pots on the floor, ladders are strewn all over the staircase and spindly yellow pine floorboards are being sanded manically in the background. Through a mist of dust and chaos steps a handsome, strapping man with a tool belt swung low on his hips. He's got a thin sheen of sweat glistening all over his torso and he is wearing a vest. Yup, a vest.

BUILDER: "Wotcha Claud. You know you said you fancied a bookcase being built on that wall upstairs? Well I whipped one up straight after lunch. Now come on Treacle, let's talk about your closet space..."

ME: "Oh goodness. Yes. Um. Great. Can I carry your saw for you? Or can I just, uh, get you a damp cloth?"

It's true. I am in love with my builder. He's called Peter and I breathe that little bit faster when he calls. True, he's not ringing to find out if I fancy a movie and a curry but because he wants to know how my husband and I are getting on with the chrome vs brass debate. I hate it when he uses that word. Husband.

In my weird fantasy world Peter and I are living in a loft conversion somewhere sunny. He walks around in nothing more than a tight, slightly stained singlet and he carries a power drill. After a robust yet tender kiss on my neck he lays down a bit of sisal flooring before stopping to measure an area for a hand-crafted console table. He occasionally mutters something about Capital not being as good as Heart and then he manfully erects a power shower. This is my perfect world. Peter doesn't ask for much - just a hot cup of tea and the odd wad of cash.

When I visit the building site which will one day be my home, I find myself perturbed by my appearance. Having recently had a baby, it's safe to say I'm not looking my best. I'm pale, hairy and wobbly. I turn up covered in regurgitated milk and I last washed my hair in March. My postpartum diet consists of bowls of roast potatoes and Nutella straight from the jar. On our second meeting Peter took me into the bathroom and I was so heavy I managed to crack one of the newly fitted floor tiles. I am not making this up.

Thing is, Peter doesn't really mind. He laughs (which makes his eyes sparkle even more by the way) and he talks intensely about light fittings. He wants to know how I feel about door handles and will bring brochures of mirrors that we pore over for hours. He even once took me to Homebase to look at sinks. As far as I was concerned it was a date. I laughed a bit too loudly when he told me a joke about his van (hilariously a friend of his calls it a lorry) and I kept touching his arm when he talked about taps.

Unfortunately my daydreaming has to stop when my husband walks round the house with us. My husband is perfectly nice, don't get me wrong, but he couldn't fix a plug if his life depended on it. Modern men, the metro sexuals, seem to have missed those all-important lessons. Sure, they're happy to buy bumper packs of Tampax for their partners and they want to talk about relationships. They probably went behind the bike sheds to talk about how to make girls tick when their young soon-to-be painting and decorating friends attended metalwork with gusto. My husband likes nothing better than throwing on a pink Lacoste and grilling me a tuna steak - but he doesn't know what to do with a hammer.

I am not alone in my need for a man who can hang a picture in less than an afternoon. Like the Jedi, the pull of the builders is strong. Elizabeth Taylor married a senator, a Hilton heir, Eddie Fisher and Oscar-winner Richard Burton (twice), but it was the builder Larry Fortensky who really broke her heart. After him, she never got married again. Well it was either that or the brain tumour, but you know what I'm saying.

I do know that this story will not finish well as every relationship with a builder has an unhappy ending. There's the matter of money owed. A builder will suddenly ask for a vast hunk of cash for fixing something you never asked to be fixed. I'm not naïve enough to think that Peter won't throw in a late request for a random couple of grand. And then something will fall apart two days after moving in. When I bought my first studio flat I panted over Mark the plasterer until the plaster fell off the wall a week after he'd gone. And when I did up the next place, Simon, a dashing chiselled man with a chisel, promised me that the skylight was safe. Hmmm. Tell that to my little brother who was sitting under it at the same time as a pigeon sat on it.

The worst thing of all is that two weeks from now, when I'm still looking at the tap catalogues remembering the good times, Peter will have moved on. He'll be in another home laughing at some desperate new mother's jokes. He'll say the right thing about a speedily painted lilac room that her husband hates and he'll be with someone else. I will be left with my (chrome) light switches and my memories. So there's only one thing for it. I've ordered my husband a workbench. I've told him he doesn't need to actually do anything but stand there, head cocked to one side asking if I'd like a flush finish. That'll be a yes.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: £12bn welfare spending cuts – more achievable in theory than in practice

John Rentoul
 

Clean energy should be our mission to the moon

Martin Rees
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral