Jordan helps his dad build a pergola.
This entry is part 3 of 24 in the series The Amanda Chronicles

Jordan helps his dad build a pergola.

Jordan – The Pergola

We both stare at the length of wood on the ground, then back at the plans. Dad frowns some more.

“We could try… No, that won’t work. Any ideas son?”

“You could get a crane?”

Dad is Victorian Branch Manager of a small engineering company so using cranes is a common occurrence.

“No way. A crane for just a bit of wood? The boys at work would be laughing at me for months. And we couldn’t get it up the drive past the carport.”

“What about a block and tackle?”

“And what do we hang it from? A passing cloud? Nice try, but no prize. And your next suggestion had better not be a helicopter.” He gives me wink and a smile. We go back to staring at the plans.

It had looked so easy on paper. We are building a pergola between the back of the house and my new ‘granny flat’. I’m really pleased with my new room. Even though there is only the three of us and it is a three bedroom house, there was never enough space. Mum and Dad had the main bedroom, I had my room, and Mum liked to keep the other room for guests. Which was all fine.

Except the problems started with the bathroom. Being an older house there were no en-suites and we all had to share the one main bathroom. As we all started early, there was always pressure to get the three of us out the door in the mornings.

Then there was the garage. Dad liked to work with his tools and was always making something, so he had converted the garage to a workroom. I have never seen a car in it and there is no room now with all of his stuff in there. Mum on the other hand liked to sew. As there was no where else, Dad had reluctantly let her use a corner of ‘his’ garage. This didn’t really work for either of them. Mum would be forever complaining about sawdust or metal filings in her material, and Dad would be complaining about threads and material in his paint.

Eventually they had decided that the best solution would be to have a ‘granny flat’ built at the back of the house, then Mum could have my old room as a sewing room and Dad could get ‘his’ garage back. I get my own flat including lounge, kitchenette and en-suite. Result!

The granny flat was oblong shaped with the bedroom and en-suite at one end, and the lounge and kitchenette at the other. In the middle there was a wall that went half way across the room to divide the two areas. We had furnished the lounge with a three seat settee opposite the TV and a desk for my study. The kitchenette had a microwave, small fridge and electric jug. I would not be doing a ‘Jamie Oliver’ in it but I could make a snack and a coffee any time I wanted. I had even convinced them to get rid of my old single bed and replace it with a new Queen size one. While I was still a bit too young for it yet, I had big plans for that bed.

The builder had barely left when Dad and I looked at the gap between the two buildings and decided that there needed to be a deck. Dad had drawn up the plans. It looked great. The deck would match the floor height so you could walk between the buildings without stepping up or down. There was a flat roof of clear fibreglass to keep it dry but still let the light in. The buildings would form two of the sides and another would be a shade cloth wall for privacy and to keep the weather out. The remaining side would be open to the yard to maintain the outdoor feeling.

The deck had gone down no problem as Dad and I made a great team. It looked even better than we had expected. A lick of paint. Beautiful.

The problem was when we got to the roof. We had put the supporting posts up – easy. But now we had to get the cross beam into place on the top of the posts. If there were half a dozen blokes helping it would have been easy, but there was just the two of us and while I might be strong for my age, the beam was more than a bit too heavy for a twelve year old. We both stare at the beam as if somehow that would make it levitate off the ground and into place. Where is The Force when you need it?

“I still reckon we just grab an end each, climb the ladders and clamp it in place.”

“Dad, you might be able to do that, but it is going be a struggle for me and if it slips we are both going to get hurt.”

“You’re probably right, but what else can we do?”

“What about if I get up the ladder with a clamp, you pass one end up to me and I clamp it in place. Then we do the other end.”

“But how will the first end pivot if you clamp it?”

“I’ll tighten the clamp enough so that it won’t fall off the post, but loose enough that it will pivot. The post will take the weight of the beam.”

“Hmmm… Yeah, that will work. Good thinking.”

He messes up my hair and gives me a pat on the back.

“We’ll make an engineer of you yet.”


Bang! Bang!

We are up the ladders. Dad is attaching the support batons for the fibreglass and I’m passing him nails.

“You looking forward to the new school next year?”

“Yeah. They have real science classes and an actual computer lab.”

Bang! Bang, bang, bang!

“High School, huh. Next you’ll be telling me you’re all grown up now.”

“Can I borrow the car?”

“Not the Kingswood. I just steam cleaned the glove box.”

We both laugh at the old joke. Dad drove a company dual cab Hilux. He said he need it for work, but it was mainly to go fishing in on the weekends. One of the perks of being Branch Manager.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

“Actually Dad, I will be needing a new computer for school next year.”

“What’s wrong with the one you’ve got?”


“It’s old! Apple are bringing out new Intel Macs that will change everything. And if I’m going to get good grades, I’ll need a good computer.”

“Who’s that computer dude you keep rabbiting on about?”

“Steve Jobs?”

“I bet his dad didn’t buy him a new computer every year.”

“No. He and Steve Wosniak built the very first Apple computer in his father’s garage.”

“You are not using my garage for your computers. I’ve only just got your mother out of there.”

“Then buy me a new computer.”

“I suppose you’ll be wanting a new phone next.”

“Nah. The Nokia does everything I could ever want.”

Bang! Bang!


All people, places and events depicted are real, just not in this universe.
© Paul Shipley

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