Lesson Learned

All the wrong gear, with no idea!

Unlike many of the things that I’ve learned in life, unfortunately, it’s not possible to learn the basics of electrical DIY from a book – trust me, I’ve tried.

I’ve always prided myself on being a different sort of man to my father. I have great respect for the man, but like many sons throughout history, I’ve tried my best to forge my own path and tackle life in my own way, rather than stringently follow in his footsteps. My Dad is the kind of person who rarely picks up a book, let alone finishes it. He believes in the value of hands-on experience over theoretical knowledge, and would much rather wade into the metaphorical deep-end than attempt to learn the basics in the shallow end first. We’re chalk and cheese, yet cut from the same cloth.

When I told him that I was planning on buying a 19th-century farmhouse in the middle of the countryside, he raised an eyebrow and asked me if I was planning on rewiring the property myself, I laughed and told him that I’d be hiring electricians to complete the work for me. His eyebrow imperceptibly rose by a few millimetres, but he said nothing more. That silence alone should have tipped me off, however, I was too pleased with my purchase and was convinced that any technical issues that I would face could be waived away with the help of a friendly local electrician. How wrong I was…

Eldon's Farmhouse

After spending a week in my new home without power, or any clue as how to proceed I gave in and called my father for advice. I never knew that it was possible to hear someone smile, but I could hear him grinning from ear to ear when he picked up the phone. I needed help and he was the only person who I knew would be able to give it for free.

Within three days he’d arrived at my home with his tools and had started drawing on the walls with different coloured chalk – for a man supposedly living in happy retirement, he was very keen to be back at work again. In any other situation, I would be readying a snide remark, however, in this case, I kept schtum and let him get on with the task at hand. Just when I was about to sneak off to do some work on the laptop, he called me back into the hallway and handed me a drill. “It’s time you got your hands dirty son”.

So began what will go down in history as one of the longest weekends of my life, for all the wrong reasons. To give my Dad credit, he only gave in to his impulse to condescend to me once an hour throughout the two 16-hour days that we worked on the house. By the end of that weekend, there was power in the house and I’d somehow been allowed to make all the mistakes that he’d made when he’d first learnt electrical engineering. I was by no means a professional, but I had the basic skills to build from and the scars to prove it…