Two Great British Obsessions – Tea and DIY
Learning the ropes
Apart from TV programmes and the occasional specialist magazine, most first-time DIYers tended to rely on their own trial and error to develop basic skills. The men, in particular, seemed loathe to bother with trivialities such as instruction leaflets. "It's pointless reading instructions because half the time they are wrong, so you're better off working it out yourself." Others resorted to manuals and guides only as a last resort: "I just crack on with it. But when I make a mess of it, then I go and read up about it."
In contrast, there were other first-time DIYers who were reluctant to undertake even the simplest of jobs without a thorough reading of books, magazine articles, or at least the instructions on the box. Women were significantly more likely to want directions than the men, and they were the ones who tended to read what was written on cans of paint.
Most first-time DIYers tended to play down their own skill levels, openly admitting their mistakes and blunders – even the men: "I managed to burst three pipes just laying the carpet." "We bought an expensive carpet, but I ruined it by cutting it four inches short. So I had to build some book cases to cover up the gap." DIY is not a macho, boastful world. Rather it is one where the large majority accept their own limitations but, because of their personal dedication to achieving a 'good job', often obtain better outcomes than the more qualified, but uninterested professionals.