I am not a man who is good with tools. Anyone who knows me will confirm, probably with unseemly haste and conviction, that this is not false modesty. I prefer my activities to be more cerebral and sedentary, although there are those that may well challenge my abilities at the former of these too.
Despite this, my wife Sharon is a traditionalist and feels that, as the man of the house, I ought to be responsible for some of the jobs that need doing about the place. In fact, as I have mentioned before, such is her conviction she has written a list of these tasks. This list has been languishing ignored for months now, so yesterday I thought I ought to start doing something about it.
The item that I decided to tackle was putting up an outside light. On the face of it this is not a difficult task. We have the light; it has been lying around waiting to be fitted for more than a year. It is simply a matter of replacing the old broken light and putting this in its place.
However, I was obviously responsible for putting up the original light because the electric to it is supplied by the inelegant solution of a cable running down the wall. I decided that I should do better and despite a complete absence of any experience or knowledge of how to do it I decided that I would channel the cable through the cavity of the wall.
Although I am not good with tools, I am lucky enough to know people who are. When I mentioned my plan to Sharon her first reaction was that I should call one of them: Mike. Not only has he done this hundreds of times before and therefore has the necessary skill and knowledge, he also has the necessary tools. I am sure that had I called him he would have been happy to help, but my preferred solution was to spend a tenner on a drill bit and have a go myself.
This, I think, is a fundamental difference between men and women. Women are collaborative and, whether it is an issue of solving a problem around the house or seeking directions, their first instinct is too seek help from someone with the right skill and/or knowledge. We men, on the other hand, whether through ego, self-sufficiency or sheer stubborn bloody-mindedness, prefer to work things out for ourselves.
So I bought the drill bit and set to work. After a couple of hours alternating between staring at the wall scratching my head and swearing vehemently under my breath Sharon once again ventured the suggestion that I phone Mike. After all, she said reasonably, he probably knows tricks to solve the problem. But no, I persevered.
Eventually, after many hours, I solved the problem. The cable disappears into the wall, reappearing at just the right place to connect to the light. I worked it out for myself, and this is the point: I take pride in that. I don’t want to be the guy that is always asking someone else how to do things. I don’t want to be constantly calling on the good will of friends to bail me out of every little problem when, no doubt, they have plenty of their own chores to manage. I want to be able to do it myself. Maybe it’s a man thing.
Of course, the moral of this story would be much more convincing if, after all that, the *£$%&^! light worked…..