Creative Director & Podcast Host

Bird by Bird - By Ricky Richards

The Broken Window - True Story

My dad has worked in the building trade for over 25 years. Yes the site of DIY makes him quiver like spiders to most people. I can sense the visceral reaction he has to fixing anything, he prefers to just leave the broken object dormant, waiting for either a miracle or several months of pestering for him to get things fixed. His typical approach is to hold off long enough before throwing enough cash at a problem to make it go away. The countless times I've pulled up Youtube videos to easy fixes he and I could do together, yet he always somehow finds an angle to avoid the 30 minutes of brain taxing effort, in return for paying an unskilled worker £600 to do a job we could do in 10 minutes.

An example of this is our conservatory door, it's been struck shut for over 6 months. It would take two people 15 minutes to fix, yet when I showed him the Youtube video solution, he came up with trivial reasons why it wouldn't work. That door is black, ours is white. As if that makes any difference to the functioning of a sliding door.

Nevertheless, tonight... my dad decided to take action. The bathroom window wouldn't open properly, so after banging it like a caveman several times, he went to get tools. Upon my arrival he was taking off the handle. I told him it wouldn't make a difference. He proceeded anyway. 

When that didn't work, I went to my room and watched a one minute video online. As he went scampering to the garage, no doubt in search of some equally useless tool, I'd used a card from my wallet and slid it down the edge of the window to unlock it. Upon his return, no thanks for my efforts. I was merely pushed aside, so he could work his magic. WD40 in the hole where the handle was, before screwing it back on. 

That wont work I said, it's the bar that connects the handle to the latches, I'm no expect but I assume that whatever connects the two has gone. Bullshit he claimed. WD40 solves all. After screwing it back on and discovering I was correct, he went into blind panic. 'What if we can't close the window, they give it gales tomorrow'.

For a start, we live in an inclosed close with a twenty foot wall behind our house, in the 20 years I've lived here the strongest wind couldn't blow away a lingering fart let alone a window off it's hinges. That's beside the point though, because we could close the window, we just had to push in the latches before closing it. 

In his state of panic he decided he was going to ask the man next door for help. A man known for his barbaric approach to DIY. The school caretaker, who's handy work is about as artisan as a finger painting. Despite me telling him I thought that was a bad idea, 5 minutes later, he came round to the house.

The man looked at the window and from my bedroom I listened as he confirmed everything I'd been saying. The difference. He'd been drinking. After dropping the screws that connect the handle to the window into the dead of the night, he then proceeded to jam a scrape into the window frame, to pull shut a window that you could have been closed with your hand. The result. A cracked window and a very pissed off dad.

As my dad escorted him out, I was unaware of what had just happened, no commotion to make me think anything other than an unsuccessful attempt at fixing a window. As the door closed however, the sound of my dads voice echoed up the stairway. 'I've just made the biggest mistake of my fucking life inviting him to come look at this, he's smashed the fucking window' 

I went and inspected the damage, he had indeed cracked the window, and left non to bothered about it. I went downstairs to assist my dad in finding the lost screw as I watched the frustration bubble up inside of him. He let out a roar of frustration, similar to that of a dog when it's had enough of it's arse being sniffed. It reminded me of the the scene from Jackie Brown when Lewis is really pissed off with the blonde chick, her moaning mounting up inside to the point where he shoots her dead in a parking lot.

While eventful. And clearly on the verge of smashing up everything around him in anger. He managed to keep a lid on it, and he's gone to bed, able to solve the drama tomorrow. It makes me realise even more how much of a burden a home can be. When even a cracked window can be such a source of so mush misery. I'm not sure I want that in my life. It will be interesting to see how this one progresses. The story continues...

Ricky Richardsbraunton