Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cack Handed

I have always been cack handed, ever since I was a little boy.
If something was to be dropped and broken, something was to be tripped over and something was to be spilt..I was the one that would invariably do it all....and do it in a style befitting a circus clown with major co ordination problems.
It is a curse I have had to deal with all my life.

Well, this morning, as I was trolling through the local auction house web sites ( in search of a small Christmas gift for him indoors) I came across a photo of a late 18th Century Georgian bookcase....and I was reminded of a time.......(many moons ago) when I was responsible for the destruction of a VERY expensive piece of furniture which I did not own.....

Even blood runs cold at the very memory of that day......

Before I was happily ensconced in my relationship with Chris I did have a relationship with a guy in Sheffield who collected antiques ( and very expensive antiques I may add) He had a penthouse flat in Sheffield and owned a country property in the Lake lived a very different lifestyle to my nurse existence in a two up two down in a slightly down-at-heel suburb of the city..Anyhow I digress.

One afternoon he asked me if I could help in load several choice pieces of furniture into a van, so that he could take them to auction. As I recall there was a French chiffonier, an early Victorian farmhouse grandfather clock and a rather handsome George III glass fronted bookcase, which dated from 1780. All beautiful pieces of furniture.
We carried each item down 4 flights of stairs without incident and loaded the clock and chiffonier. I held onto the bookcase as my boyfriend cleared some room in the van, and for some totally unknown reason left the thing standing in the road as I walked up  to see what was going on.
Sheffield streets are steep, and in what could only be described as slow motion we both turned to see one of the bookcase doors open ever-so-gently.....unbalancing the whole piece.

As I screamed ( and I did scream)..the bookcase started to a tree and with the biggest of crashes it fell onto the doors downward.
I couldn't move. My boyfriend (who was crying silently) did however and without a word he lifted the bookcase off the road.
There couldn't have been more damage to it if Hattie Jacques herself had jumped on it from the top of a wardrobe, and even to my unsophisticated eye, I just knew that I had inflicted damage a nurse's pay could not quite cater for.
Still in silence, the bookcase (or the pile of wood and glass that it now resembled) was loaded up and driven away, leaving me to ponder my fate.
On impulse I drove immediately to one of the less attractive parts of Sheffield ( Think The Wire) and offered my old beat up peugeot 105 up to a scrap merchant to buy......The scrap merchant was a big hairy arsed bloke who seemed rather sceptical of my motives... but seeing that I looked rather distressed, he offered me a cup of tea and seemed ever-so-faintly amused that I was selling my car because I knackered the front off a priceless antique and wanted to "pay" for the damages

As I recall he gave me 150£ for my car....
I never knew what happened to the bookcase....
The relationship never lasted either...................


  1. I had to see who else was cack handed I thought it was only my family used that word for moi.

  2. My famous cack handed thing to do so far was outside a bistro there were two lovely urns and a lovely new porche still with the nylon on the seats.I had a stone in my shoe placed a hand to balance myself on one of the urns and "oops" those are my exact words as the urn fell in slow motion just missing the other urn and my friends and it landed on the bonnet of the new porche with the nylon on the seats bump and bounced of smash.
    Well what can I say cack handed

  3. Hmmm, that relationship was NOT destined to last, if accidents couldn't be forgiven! I can just picture you there with your sad Peugeot... you've moved on to better things! :)

  4. Anonymous12:12 pm

    You've got a 100% fail safe excuse to not help with moving furniture anymore though. Just tell them the story.

  5. I can just picture that John....

    That's why I never buy fine antiques...between coffee cup rings and dinging them with the hoover, I think it would all be too stressful.

    Hope the ex boyfriend was sufficiently impressed with your attempt to make amends for the damage.

  6. On the rare occasions I have time to sit and watch one of the hundreds of antique shows on tv these days (unlike Cro), I always hold my breath when they start tossing priceless vases about like a ripe bannana.

    Cack handed - another typo Johnnnn?

  7. chris
    not this time

  8. Yep - thought so. Left handed!

  9. I feel your pain.

    A neighbour was replacing her old fashioned 'storage heaters' for a new central heating system, and I said I'd like to have them. I sent round some heavies with a white van, and joined them to give instructions etc (at which I'm quite good).

    As they were 'exiting' the first very heavy heater from her hallway, it caught the edge of a Louis XV guilded Console table, and reduced it to splinters.

    No hole was big enough for me to hide in, and I didn't even own a Peugeot 105.

  10. That was quite spectacular.

    In your defence I will say that you selling your car to help pay for the damage was worthy of any romantic story.

    A friend of mine once dropped something on the glass shelf over the deli counter at a large supermarket. The entire shelf smashed and the glass landed in the food below.

  11. Anonymous12:56 pm

    And yet here you are John "cack handed" and all, taking excellent care of your lovely menagerie! My Mom always told me I went around like a "bull in a china shop" so I tend to be over cautious around expensive things...I've broken so many drinking glasses that I just use plastic ones now (which I hate) heaven forbid if I were allowed around fine crystal!

  12. 'Cack handed' is my middle name or was, for I have accidentally damaged so many things over the years that the list is far too long to remember :)

  13. Ah yes, I remember it well! Those were such happy days...

  14. An appropriate post for me, having caught a table leg with my foot yesterday and brought down a slow cooker full of yoghurt.

  15. This all sounds too familiar....I live with someone like you, John! You folks mean well though! lol

  16. Sorry you gave up the Peugeot. He actually accepted your 150£?!? You're well rid of him.

  17. Sh*t does happen, what else can I say?

  18. mitch
    to be fair he didn't... he was insured!

  19. you should have gone back to guy who bought it off you,and offered him a £100 due to the fact that cars depreciate in value as soon as you drive them away....easy way to make £50 !...simples

  20. Luckily nobody's ever asked me to load priceless antiques into a van on a steep hill, so I've been spared expensive disasters of that sort. In fact I'm not accident-prone at all, I tend to handle anything valuable as if it's the Crown Jewels. But I hasten to add I'm very capable of other types of embarrassment....

  21. I'm very short sighted in my left eye (scarred by firework sparks when I was a child, so I don't always see things to my side properly.

    Because of this, trips to anywhere selling delicate and expensive stuff fills me with dread.

    But the things I'm most likely to walk into are other people's desks at work.

  22. OUCH! OUCH. (The Lake District... the bugger.)

    On my first two-week work placement at an Interior Design place in Bradford (age 16), I broke an ammonia printer and a ping pong table. I didn't have anything to sell but I did dress up in an astronaut outfit for them.

  23. And now I know what "cack handed" means! Wait....was that not the point of the story? ;-)

  24. Speaking of Hattie Jaques, your description reminded me of her 'twin brother' Eric's film The Plank.

  25. I dunno, John, if he knew of your cack-handedness, he's to blame in taking the risk of asking you to help.

    I have my moments, although i usually am the one who gets hurt rather than items.

    I think it very decent of you to be willing to sell your car to try to repay at least some of the damage.

    Can't see that bloke dealing well at all with your animal menagerie.


  26. In answer to your comment on the cat toys.
    Imagine how I felt when I unwrapped it, I wondered just where my son was coming from, lol and then it all became clear.

  27. Anonymous5:31 pm

    Hey John have you seen this video? I found it today at cathy@home's post!!

  28. You are a star. Now that I've got my giggles under control again, I sympathise, I do sort of know how it feels. I am the typical bull in a china shop, having twice (as a child) almost flattened and killed my younger brother. The first time I 'used' a mirror-fronted wardrobe (I think I am still working off the bad luck from that escapade!) It missed him by inches. The second time I fell and flattened him - his nose has never been the same. I still feel the mortification. He still feels the pain.

  29. Theanne
    wonderful/....I have seen it but a long time ago!
    thank you!

  30. Oh, I can see it all now...

  31. Oh no, I can just see it all falling to bits, OOPS! Since your ex was insured and didn't take the money you had for your Peugot (fair does to him) and being as he wasn't short of a bob or two anyway - did you manage to buy your car back? I hope so because other than you offering to dress yourself in sackcloth and ashes and hang yourself on his front porch, what else could you do? These things happen.

  32. Time to let the memory of those feelings go John.

  33. Dear John,
    You have mentioned your clumsiness before. Please name the hospital you work in so that if I'm smashed to bits in an RTA in the North Wales/Cheshire area, I don't end up in your Intensive Care Unit. The idea of you fiddling about with the hi-tech instruments, wires, drips and other hospital paraphernalia sends a chill up my spine even though I am sure your bedside manner is wonderful.
    Yorkshire "Shit-Scared" Pudding

  34. A relationship ruined by a bookcase - there is a story in there somewhere John.

  35. Oh golly, how awful at the time, but you've drawn some good stories out of everyone. In spite of my dad using the term cack-handed, I can't think of anything I've done to anyone else - only heart-sinking damage to my own stuff (my daughter broke a bong that she had borrowed from a friend's mother the other day - don't ask).
    But having heard so many Earthquake stories of smashing antiques - a grandfather clock leap into the air and smash face down onto a stair rail, dressers full of family-heirloom china topple into smithereens, chimneys collapsing onto treasured Georgian tables - I don't think I could ever take seriously, preciousness over antiques again.
    It's all just stuff!

  36. Ooh John, how noble of you to sell your car and offer compensation, I'm afraid I would be trying to piece the cupboard back together, splinter by splinter.
    I can't recall having many ups-a-daisy' moments in my life...
    ooh wait !
    I once dropped an entire tray of Hot Cross buns in my grans bakery, warm and straight out of the oven .
    No time to make another batch, we just dusted them off, added more icing, and sent them on..
    Well, you can't waste can you ;)

  37. Accidents happen and your boyfriend should have not left you standing there to feel bad like that. That was worse than the furniture being broken! and if he took your money from selling your car then double pooy on him! Ok I see now he didn't take it, he was insured? Well good grief then he surely should not have left you standing in the street to feel bad. My original double pooy on him stands!

  38. Cack handed is a term I've never heard before. Where I come from we use terms like "clutz" or "accident prone".

    I have broken something expensive that didn't belong to me. Afterwards, I just wanted to bury my head in the ground and stay there for a month!

  39. dan
    cack is an older english slang word for sh*t.. ie from the fact that clumsy people usually make a mess

  40. pud...
    I am VERY careful at work (generally)

  41. You're well rid of that man. People like you are MUCH more valuable than any stinkin' piece of furniture.

  42. Well I still laugh at some of the things that went off back then...

  43. Your stories always make me smile :-)

  44. the relationship didnt!

  45. I learned a new phrase. Now to work it into conversation...

  46. You are being coy John. Cack = sh*t. Yep, but Cack-handed used to specifically mean left-handed, with reference to the hand used to wipe one's arse (in order, I guess to keep the other one cleanish for eating). Cack-handed meaning left-handed refers to the perceived awkwardness of left-handers. Not an equal opportunities word!

  47. "Cacky handed" is a common Australian expression for a left-handed person!

    I'd no more ask a person which hand they used to wipe their arse than I would ask if they were a 'scruncher', a 'folder' or a 'trailer' of toilet paper when it comes to wiping one's arse! LOL!

    Although .... I once new a quartermaster who issued a flight of 33 airman thier ration of toilet paper on the basis of "8 squares, per man, per day - and if you run out then stiff shit!" (there were 500 squares to each roll! LOL)

  48. Anonymous3:53 am

    What a nightmare! I would have crawled away. But thank god he was insured.
    I nearly destroyed the glass front of an antique attorney's book case in a patient's home one time when I was still working with hospice. I was vacuuming and stopped for a moment to move a chair. I thought I'd locked the vacuum cleaner handle back into it's upright position but I was wrong. The handle fell back full force against the fragile, old, lead glass window on one of the doors. Miraculously, it didn't break, but the woman who owned it called my boss and asked her to send someone else after that.
    The funny thing was, I'm NOT usually clumsy, but I almost broke four different things in that house. She was absolutely right to have me barred from the premises. I was pure bad luck there.


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