Friday, June 09, 2006

What's in a name?

Apart from my mother (who, frankly, can call me what she likes), there are only two people in the world who are allowed to call me 'dear'. They know who they are. It took a while for me to understand the sense in which it was being used, but I have managed it, I think. When either R or S calls me 'dear', I experience it as genuinely affectionate, and I don't feel remotely patronised. In fact I quite like it.

Tonight, something similar yet unprecedented happened with another term of endearment. J the plumbing technician had suggested that I spend the evening on CT8 -- an exercise which involves drilling holes for pipe clips in a perfectly straight line and exactly 150 mm apart (well, +/-2 mm). You need to do one lot in wood, the second in bare brick and the third into a plastered surface. Here you go, he said, when you get to making holes in the masonry, you can christen our brand new drill.

This is a proper grown up drill. It's made by Hitachi, and its casing is green and black patterned rubber. It has the aura of a space age trainer or a ninja snake, and it has a special side handle for extra whoomfage. We were not worthy. At one point, plumbing S was complaining that she was getting nowhere. I said 'you just need to give it some welly', but then R the farmer came over and pointed out that she was never going to make real headway till she took the drill out of reverse. Later on, B the teacher came over and said 'girls are often scared of drills', and showed me how to throw my body weight behind it. All the advice was useful, but not as useful as the practice. I passed CT8, and I was proud of myself.

After our work had been checked with a tape measure and a spirit level, it all had to be dismantled. I carefully removed all the screws, and started to lever our used rawl plugs out with a screwdriver. Jeez, this is boring, I thought. I wonder if it's also pointless? So I carried my first batch over to J, spiky and dusty like a handful of dying moths. Do you need these back? I said.

He smiled at me and said 'no, you can chuck those away, love'.

He has never called me love before. In fact his entire demeanour has been scrupulously gender neutral -- which I have genuinely appreciated as he is, in Plumbing World, entirely alone on this front. So what's with the love? Is this a momentary lapse of political correctness? I prefer to think it's more that he has decided that I am ok, and the 'love' is an acknowledgement of that, a general relaxing into what comes more naturally. I might be wrong, but until proved so I will feel quietly happy.



Blogger Spine said...

"It has the aura of a ... ninja snake"?

Am I alone in being puzzled?

10:31 am  
Blogger Jo said...

Yes, good point, I could have put that more elegantly. What I meant was it has something of the snake about it in its looks (I wanted to stroke it), but also something ninja, in that in the right hands (not mine, sadly) it could be lethal in a low key, pared down, blink and you miss it sort of way.

There's a photo here if that helps.

10:56 am  
Blogger Ben said...

That is not a drill. That is a statement. I see just what you mean.

10:59 am  
Anonymous jonathan said...

I'm not going to look at the picture of the drill as I think it can only dissapoint compared to the technicolour ninja image your description of it placed in my head.

A very thoughtful piece, I think, though, Joella. As often, you take an everyday incident (the sort that many writers might dismiss as too trivial to base a whole post on, if they considered it at all) and offer an intriguing personal perspective.

For what it's worth I suspect you're right about the motives behind that unexpected term of endearment, as well. So- welcome to the working classes!

1:25 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Dennis said...

Whoah. That's an impressive drill.

2:42 pm  
Anonymous Kate said...

Looks like an adult 'power-ranger' to me!

1:08 pm  

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