DIY


English weather in Italy

It has taken me four months to get around to fixing the curtain rail and Sunday afternoon seemed like the ideal time. One reason was it was pouring down with rain so there was no hope of pottering in the garden and the second reason was my wife has started to use a peg to close the curtains at night. Not any old peg, a big red plastic peg. Mrs Sensible is big on hints.

I personally don’t see the need for curtains in the bedroom. The only person who overlooks the house lives one kilometre away on the other side of the valley and I like the curtains open so that I can watch the sunset in the evening. I don’t know how good the sunrise in the morning is because unlike my wife who allegedly has seen it nearly every day. I am never awake in time to experience this profound and moving spectacle.

Sunset from the bedroom window

Back to the problem of the curtain runner. The curtain runner is very simple device, two little plastic pulleys, lots of plastic hoops with wheels on, one technical piece of cord and two plastic thingamajigs that should whizz along the runner enabling the curtain to open for the sunrise and close and shut out the wonderful Italian sunsets.

I laid the contraption on the floor of the living room and slowly started to disassemble it. Quiet straight forward to be honest, no screws just pull the plastic ends and it miraculously falls apart into lots of little plastic runners and assorted bits. While Mrs Sensible was in the kitchen baking apple pie and biscuits I sat pondering how this simple device that contained two pulleys and one technical piece of string worked. It is in fact quiet ingenious and totally baffled me. I could see the hole in the plastic thingamajigs where the technical piece of cord should be attached. But once re assembled it still didn’t operate.

I kind of thought it couldn’t be that simple, after all it is Sunday afternoon, it is raining when it should be sunny and I had forgotten to include all the little plastic hoops that the curtain hangs from. I think subconsciously I left the little plastic bits out because I knew from bitter experience that nothing ever works first time.

From the kitchen my wife heard me struggling and also the new names I was now using for the technical piece of cord. She suggested I strip down the one from the guest bedroom and see how a good curtain runner works. It sounded like a great idea. After all that is all the Chinese do isn’t it. “Please to send curtain rail, we make copy, cheaper and quicker.”

So I did as my darling wife suggested. I took the step ladders into the guest bedroom and started to remove the curtains and then the curtain rail. There was a split second as I unscrewed the curtain rail when I asked myself how this simple ten minute DIY job of rethreading a piece of cord was suddenly becoming so complicated and time consuming. Maybe I would need to call in an expert or allow my wife to continue to use the red peg to close the curtains.

I placed the good curtain runner from the spare bedroom next the devastated curtain runner on the lounge floor and slowly I took it to pieces. I made sure that I kept the plastic parts separate. I examined how the technical piece of cord was attached to the runners and how it looped around the two pulleys, I handled it as one might handle an unexploded bomb, and very slowly I reassembled it making sure I included all the little plastic hoops and bits. Testing it by pulling the technical cord I was not at all surprised that I now had two curtain runners that didn’t operate.

As I sat glaring at the assorted plastic parts scattered in various piles around the lounge and wondering if Eunice had another red peg available for the Guest bedroom, my darling wife was quick to point out that she had also suggested that I should have just swopped the curtain onto the spare curtain rail in the bedroom and not had to mess at all.

You see we have two curtain rails on each window. One for the curtains and a second inner curtain rail to hang heavy curtains to keep out the winter cold, the cold winters of Italy has been quite a shock to me I thought I was escaping the UK to the land of sun. It was a shock when the first winter reached minus twenty degrees centigrade. I refuse to hang the heavy winter curtains; they are ugly and have a peculiar smell. I also did not want to use the heavy curtain rail as I initially wanted that feel good feeling every man receives when he completes a successful Sunday DIY job.

Looking at the two broken curtain rails I decided I would have a better chance of fixing the guest bedroom curtain rail because I hadn’t really tampered too much with it. So again I slowly stripped it back down to its basic components. As I reached the plastic thingamajig I spotted that the technical piece of cord was trapped between the runner and the aluminium rail thereby causing a massive component failure. I think I remember studying about component failure during a sigma six course whilst working for Vickers Pneumatics.

I slowly reassembled the curtain rail making sure that the technical cord was not twisted and was able to run smoothly in the pulleys. As I pulled the cord I was pleased no not pleased I was overjoyed that the plastic thingamajigs not only whizzed closed but also whizzed open. Fuelled by this success and by my mounting confidence in my ability as a DIY expert I successfully reassembled the other curtain rail.

As I eat Eunice’s wonderful apple pie and type this post I am sure there is a moral to this story but I am stuffed if I can figure it out.

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