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Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I admit that I am notoriously impractical when it comes to DIY and household improvements. It may be that I do not have the knack or just that I am incapable of applying myself, but whatever I try never quite works out right.

This article in the Western Mail therefore struck a chord. I can at least wire a plug though I recall that my first attempt at doing so was a bit of a disaster. I had just moved into a hall of residence at University only to find that all the electricity sockets took small round three pin plugs. I went out to the shop, bought some and put one onto my stereo. I plugged it in and promptly blew all the fuses on the fifth floor.

The journalist reports that "nearly half of those under 30 would struggle to wallpaper a room, 44% could not bleed a radiator and 35% would not know how to unblock a drain. At the same time, 27% could not sew a hem and 26% do not know how to wire a plug, according to Direct Line Home Response 24 who commissioned a YouGov poll of 2,294 people in March. A fifth of young people said they had panicked when confronted with a household emergency, with many having to resort to calling out a professional."

Direct Line has dubbed this group of people, the flat-pack generation - because their domestic skills end at being able to assemble flat pack furniture. I find this assertion to be astonishing. Who is it that says that assembling flat-pack furniture is straightforward? It is one of the most difficult and demanding DIY jobs around, and I have a number of wobbly bookcases and dodgy chest-of-drawers as testament to this. I truly am a lost cause when it comes to DIY.
Takes me back to getting the results of my GCSE Physics mock exam... It came back with good marks on every page except one. On the page featuring a well-known diagram, my Physics teacher had simply written across my inept guesses, "Never try to wire a plug, or you will DIE."

Mindful of this, I rang my parents on buying my first plugged apparatus at uni. They weren't in, but I was safely talked through it by my little sister, so there's hope for a younger generation!
I can wire a plug, but I can't wallpaper. I'm not sure why anyone my age thirty years ago would have been any better at wallpapering... As for jobs like bleeding a radiator - I don't know right now, but should I ever need to do it, the internet will no doubt give me precise instructions.
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