A trade secret

Having the builders in was a real labour of love

Published by: Davina Flaherty and Fiona Ford
Published on: 10th June 2010

Heads buried in a kitchen catalogue, me and my handyman Simon discussed doors.
‘The oak’s nice,’ I said.
‘Too thick for your doorframe,’ objected Simon. Suddenly, my eldest son Ben, then 10, appeared.
‘You still going on about kitchens?’ he moaned. ‘I’m going around my mate’s house.’
‘Bye, love,’ I replied. As the door slammed shut, me and Simon, 26, leapt on each other like a couple of passionate teenagers.
‘I thought he’d never leave,’ Simon panted, running his fingers through my hair.
‘Sssh,’ I breathed. With Ben at a friend’s and my other kids Joshua, eight, and Patrick, five, in bed, I wasn’t wasting time chatting.
Sounds like something out of Desperate Housewives doesn’t it? Me enjoying a romp with the handyman.
But since divorcing the kids’ dad the year before, I wasn’t ready for anything serious.
I’d first met Simon a few years before when he’d plumbed in the bathroom. I hadn’t see him again, until I’d bumped into him on a girls’ night out a couple of months ago.
We’d spent all night gossiping, and discovered that as well as a filthy sense of humour, we both loved comedies, animals and walks.
We only had eyes for each other, but I wasn’t daft. Swapping numbers, I’d made one thing clear.
‘Remember, I’m 13 years older than you, divorced, and a mum to three kids,’ I’d said.
‘Doesn’t bother me,’ he smiled.
My heart soared. I couldn’t wait to meet him again.
As he walked me home on our next date, I wanted to invite him in – but reality hit. The kids couldn’t wake up and find Bob the Builder in the house – not until I was sure I’d be Mrs Bob.
‘Sorry Simon,’ I’d said. ‘It’s been fun, but we have to call it quits.’
He was heartbroken. ‘Why?’ he’d demanded.
So I told him my concerns.
‘What if you introduce me as your handyman?’ he’d grinned at me. ‘We’ll pretend you’ve booked me for some jobs around the house. Then, when the boys are in bed, I’ll have you all to myself.’
So for weeks, Simon had been around every night, supposedly to fit a kitchen door.
But how much longer could we go on fooling my kids, family and friends?
‘Maybe I should get all the doors refitted,’ I suggested.
‘It’ll take a while,’ Simon winked.
‘Yeah,’ Ben piped up from the living room. ‘Simon’s been here every night for the past five months and hasn’t changed the kitchen door, let alone any others.’
‘What do you mean?’ I spluttered. ‘He’s being thorough…’
‘I know you’re dating,’ Ben interrupted. ‘I’m a kid, not stupid.’
They’d known all along! Did that mean all my mates knew, too?
‘We thought he was giving everything a good going over,’ they laughed.
This Valentine’s Day, we tied the knot. Now I’m the happiest woman in the world – well, I will be when he finally fits that new kitchen door!
Deborah Burnell, 46, Ilkley, West Yorkshire