I recently read a cheerful article in the Guardian which said that there was no such thing as a gifted child.
That’s a good thing, by the way.
It’s a good thing because it means that anyone can be gifted. Our brains are plastic. It just takes practice. Ten thousand hours of it, to be precise, if one wishes to become an expert in the field.
Unfortunately, there are many things which I now find myself needing to do, which I have not had ten thousand hours of practice at. In fact, they are things I have got zero experience in, things I never learned at school. Well, apart from that one time in Year 8 when we made a whirligig in DT and I used both a saw and a vice, and couldn’t get the whirly bit of the whirligig to work, so ended up with a bit of a white elephant (no literally, it was a model of an elephant) and now no one even remembers what in God’s name a whirligig even was and even fewer care.
Yes, I am talking about DIY. Things that you do around the home. Things that aren’t cooking and cleaning (not that I would regard myself as an expert in those either) but that involve fixing things, or using any kind of physical strength or manual dexterity.
To illustrate the point of just how lacking in general living skills I am, I bring you the story of how, today, I got locked out of the house.
Not an unusual occurrence, I hear you say. People get locked out of their houses all the time. You’re out there putting the remains of a paint roller (another sad attempt to perform DIY) in the bin, and a sudden gust of wind whips up and closes the door behind you. Only you’re not really locked out, as you’ve left the back door wide open. You stride triumphantly around the side of the house. Well done you for having the foresight to leave the back door open. Now all that stands between you and a nice shower for your paint-splattered self is the back gate.
You wander around and push the back gate. It won’t budge. You can see the tantalising top of the open back door, tempting you with its proximity. You push the gate again. It won’t budge.
Now you start considering your options. There’s the neighbour’s van, parked alongside the wall. Maybe you could use the van as a handy stepladder, jump over the wall and into the back garden like a bundle of heat sensed from the nocturnal cameras of a police helicopter trying to escape a crime scene on Police Camera Action? Then again, it is the middle of the day and the neighbour might take umbrage at me jumping on his van, or other neighbours might think I actually am in a crime scene and perform a citizen’s arrest. Plus there are six local children playing out the front and I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of them. Must maintain dignity as responsible adult, teacher and pillar of the community.
Perhaps I could jump over the back gate? I saw next door do this a while back when he locked himself out. It looked pretty easy.
My foot is now stuck in the gate. I don’t think I’m wearing the shoes for this.
Hurtling down from my feeble attempt to climb over my own back gate, I decide to enlist the help of the local children. Perhaps with all seven of us pushing the gate, it will open.
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not suggest using children for this. How anyone ever thought it was a good idea to send them down the mines or up chimneys, I have no idea. The children cannot open the gate, and neither can I, and now I am standing behind my house with a gang of very excited and helpful children trying to break into my own house. Not even my house, in fact. My garden.
The children suggest calling their dads. Their dads will be able to do this. Their dads are experts in jumping over gates (I can confirm this, having seen him do it) and using tools for these kinds of purposes, like opening gates and stuff. Their dads can help. They begin a chorus of chanting for their dads. Dad Next Door duly appears, and opens the gate immediately and with apparent ease. I am officially a useless idiot. If the universe can do one thing for me, I ask it this, please give me the strength to perform DIY, to paint the kitchen, to remove the radiator from the wall so I can do the difficult bits, to use power tools without having to dodge the drill bit when it comes flying out, to use a sealant gun without it leaking sealant out of the back, and to BE ABLE TO OPEN MY OWN GODDAM GATE, WHEN IT OBVIOUSLY ISN’T DIFFICULT.
I retire to the safety of my own garden, red-faced and vowing to never set foot outside the door without the keys again, not even to empty the bins. Then I close the gate behind me, and IT WON’T BLOODY CLOSE.
Lord have mercy. If I need ten thousand hours of practice to open and close a gate then I am screwed.