A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

Like most people in the world, I can wire a plug and change a wheel. These are simple things to do. But I cannot reassemble the coffee machine that I took to pieces this morning, and whilst I can drill a hole in a wall, I cannot get my hair to stay straight.
Anything even remotely complicated like that and I’m stumped, which is why, years ago, when I came home from school one day to find my father’s pet goat (yes that’s right, a pet goat. It was bought with a view to mowing the lawn) in the middle of the road, I knew the day would not end well.

Have you ever tried to move a goat when it wants to remain stationary? It’d be easier to move Jupiter. So what do you do? If you break off from traffic control duties to fetch an enticing apple from the kitchen, you know that when you get back to the scene, Patsy - for that was her name - will have entered a passing car via its windscreen after climbing aboard the bonnet.

And quite apart from the sadness that such an accident would have caused me, my family and the relatives of the person in the car - whose death would have been neither comfortable nor very dignified - there would have been many forms to complete and many stern words from a policeman.

I was weighing all this up when the arrival of a noisy motorcycle galvanised Patsy into action. Sadly, the action in question was a great deal of Elvis impersonations with the top lip and an industrial bout of bleating and head butting.

Eventually, other motorists arrived on the scene and this being in the seventies, mid suburbia, when people obviously had little else to do, everyone got out of their cars to help. When we had what seemed a thousand or so of us, we were able to push the poor animal, legs locked, back into the garage from which she had escaped.

And then, another two hours later, the police called round to say that she was out again. This time, on what is called an A road but is actually better described as a motorcycle and monster truck racetrack.

With the help of most of the population of what was soon to be called Greater Manchester, and tactical air support, she was again heaved back into the garden, and this time I set about finding the route she was using to get out. And it was the damnedest thing. I looked for holes in the fencing. I looked round the garage. I looked under the flower beds. I even checked her bedding for evidence of missing planks. But there was nothing, and so I concluded that she was getting airborne somehow. Maybe she’d built a glider.

This is the other part of my condition. Like many modern day men, I can never find anything that I’m looking for, even when I’m actually looking at it. In a fridge, I think milk is actually invisible to the male eye. And so, it turns out, are dirty great holes in the fencing.

I, the sole founder of PadPimpers, a home improvements company, genuinely do not understand this. When an 18th-century carpenter tacked together two small pieces of mahogany, he could reasonably expect that they’d remain conjoined until the end of time. And yet fencing, which is held together by massive 6in nails, falls to pieces, all on its own, every 15 minutes.

Why does this happen? And what do you do when it happens on a bank holiday Sunday? There was no possibility of ringing for help, which meant I would have to fix the damn thing myself. This, I worked out, would require some nails and the “smote-ing tool” of the gods - a good hammer.

But, astonishingly, the only hammer we had in the house is the sort of gaily painted little thing Jane Austen might have used to pin a picture of Little Lord Fauntleroy to her bed-head. A hammer, that wouldn’t dent toffee. So I decided to use the butt end of a snooker cue instead.

Now, have you ever tried to nail two pieces of fence post together? It is literally impossible I tell you. The nail goes in well to start with but then, as you up the tempo and the vigour of your strokes, it gets a kink in the middle and all is lost. Once a nail is bent, it can never be made to go straight. You need to start again.

I started again many thousands of times that day until, eventually, the nail went all the way through the first piece of wood and was ready to penetrate the upright. Which I should explain, was a rock solid post, set in concrete. You’d imagine, then, that it would not flex at all. But it did. Each time I hit my nail with the butt end of the cue, it simply boinged backwards, out of the way, until it eventually fell over.

So now the gap in the fence, which had been just about big enough for a desperate goat on heat to get through, had become wide enough for a Chieftain Battle tank.

I’m not generally a man given to tears or tantrums, but as darkness began to rapidly envelop the scene, I felt close to both. And that brings me on to the thrust of this day’s missive.

In the olden days, friends would have laughed at my hopelessness. They would have enjoyed my inability to knock a nail into a piece of wood. It would have been amusing. But these days we are no longer permitted to mock the afflicted.

If a child is dyslexic, it is no longer made to wear a dunce’s cap. Indeed, it is allowed extra time in its exams. And there’s more. I heard last week that if a child has hyperactivity problems, you don’t smack its bottom. In fact, if it has hyperactivity problems at Thorpe Park, Alton Towers or even Blackpool Pleasure Beach, it is often allowed to jump the queues.

We live in a time when the playing field is levelled out for everyone: when the rich and the privileged are rejected by the universities they’ve selected, while the weak and the ginger are given a leg-up at every opportunity. And yet nothing is being done to help people like me. People who seemingly are - complete spanners.

You, reading this, can probably set your video recorders. I cannot. You can probably balance your bank accounts. I cannot. You can probably even knock nails into wood and mend your fence.

We ended up having to park my dad’s car across the gap until we could find a professional to sort things out. And the imprisoned goat, nonchalantly wiped her sweaty-itch-ravaged backside all over his pride and joy by way of thanks.

Don’t you think, then, that if we are going to have a world where legislation erases all foibles and shortfalls, it should apply to everyone? In a society that’s truly fair, I think I should now get free home maintenance and fence repairs. Or am I missing something?


1 Comment:

  1. Anonymous said...
    If Padpimpers is a home improvement company and you are the founder and presumabley the only employee, it doesn't say too much that you struggle to fix a fence.

    And why would you want / need free home maintenance?

    Maybe it's just me, but I think you need to rethink your advertising / promotional strategy.

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