I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person. I got through a degree largely grasping the sort of concepts that make your brain ache. (If I look back on an essay now I wonder who on earth I must have been channelling as I cant believe such writing came from my own brain). I can sometimes answer questions on Mastermind and rock the missing vowels round on Only Connect. And generally it’s not wise to pick an argument with me as I will take you down. (Boo got her barrister-like ability to make a water-tight argument from somewhere after all, and it definitely wasn’t Husband.) But, whether it’s a lack of practical abilities or of common sense or a sign of ageing, there’s increasingly a list of things that I JUST CANNOT GET TO GRIPS WITH. This includes, but is not exclusive to, the following:
• Anything car-related.
As the windscreen wipers debacle proved, I cannot deal with anything mechanical. Which is why, when my car broke down when the twins were 2-years-old and passengers in the back, they learnt the word ‘Fuck’, I sat crying in the driver’s seat and had to be rescued by a combination of the man from the corner shop who noticed I was stuck and the mechanic from the classic car garage who sorted me out, even though my car was less of a classic, more of a disaster-on-wheels.
• Punctured tyres.
Unfortunate then that I had TWO flat tyres on the buggy last week, one day after the other. Fortunately I had a spare wheel for the first. Grandy sorted it out for me the second time. That man must never die!
• Adventure Time, or any of a hundred programmes that Boo finds hilarious.
Perhaps it’s actually for the best that Husband cut us off from Sky. Perhaps he was feeling inadequate in the face of kids’ TV too.
• My Now TV box.
Bought to replace Sky, all it’s achieved since January is to sit by the TV in my bedroom because I couldn’t get it to connect to the Wi-fi. The box claims that it’s ‘easy to start watching in minutes.’
Perhaps I should ask Noodles to sort it out for me.
• My Nokia Windows phone.
My maxed-out iPhone will have to keep to its last legs for a while longer as I can’t get its replacement to do anything I need it to do.
• Tech language.
Actually, the problem with the previous two points is that I don’t actually have a clue what the instructions mean when trying to sort out any problems with technology. If the solution to a tech-related problem isn’t ‘turn it off and turn it back on again’ then truly I am stuck.
• Sat-nav instructions.
Sat-nav: In 200 yards bear right.
Me: What do you mean when you say ‘200 yards?’
Sat-nav: When possible, turn around.
Me: Oh, you meant ‘take the turning back there.’
Still, with or without sat-nav I can’t actually go more than half the way around a roundabout without getting lost.
I can put paint on a wall (but can’t cut-in, despite having been shown how by my next-door neighbour several times. Should you ever visit my house, please promise never to take too close a look at my coving). I can’t put up shelves, use a drill, plaster, tile, knock down walls, lay flooring or do a million other things that would make my house a lot nicer.
• Anything electrical.
Back in high school there was a day when the class learnt how to re-wire a plug. The teacher took one look at my friend, Katie, and I and gave us a different task to do. No way was he going to let us potentially blow up the school. Unfortunately he didn’t alternatively teach us how to avoid cowboy traders, so again, I’m stuffed.
I’m not especially keen on playing sport. By and large I’m even less of a fan of watching it.
Despite the lure of 22 fit men in shorts, I cannot for the life of me get excited at the prospect of football. It’s as though time slows down when it’s on…and then they have the audacity to add on extra time. Pah.
Golf, snooker, athletics, rugby, cricket all just leave me cold. That said, if anyone has a spare ticket for Wimbledon then I’m your girl. But that just highlights how little I care about the others.
• Official paperwork.
Surely I should be able to complete my tax return without guesswork? And yet…
Ditto passport applications, benefit claim forms, insurance policy forms… My life just doesn’t fit neatly into a series of boxes, ok?
• Explaining the world to a child.
‘What makes a rainbow?’ ‘Why do slugs shrivel up when you put salt on them?’ ‘What happens when you die?’…
Nothing makes you realise how little you know about how things work than trying to explain them to a 4-year-old.
• Beauty products.
Why can’t there just be one conditioner that gives me swishy, shiny hair, one pot of cream that makes my skin glow, one lipstick that’s just the right shade? Why instead are there a thousand different products that offer the world, but only if you fit into a very particular box? How am I meant to choose between nutri-gloss shine or anti-frizz or weather-protect or age-defy? Will Boswelox help? To my shame I want to believe the hype, am head over heels when I find something that works. But there’s a lot of hit-and-miss.
But don’t ask me to ask anyone. Those women with the whole make-up range on their faces scare the bejeezers out of me! Unless they then give me free miniatures to try. Then they’re my new best friend. Even if I then feel dubious about why they’ve felt the need to ply me with anti-wrinkle creams. Nowadays it’s always anti-wrinkle. It makes me frown, which then causes wrinkles.
If I could just find the right products I wouldn’t need testers and I wouldn’t frown nearly as much. But then the cosmetic companies wouldn’t sell as much. It’s a conspiracy, but still I fall for it.
•Passwords and phone numbers.
Identity thieves: just to let you know everything is written down somewhere as I swear I’ve lost the function of the part of my brain that’s meant to store such information. However, good luck finding the information you need when you need it, because I sure as hell can’t.
• Food and drink.
I’ve no idea what healthy eating means any more. And I can never remember how many units I’m meant to claim I drink when I go to the GP’s without eliciting raised eyebrows and tutting or someone pointing at me singing ‘liar, liar, pants on fire.’
• Parents’ Evening.
A sure-fire way to feel like an inadequate parent, even when it’s good news. And despite the teachers increasingly being younger than I am.
I must have read a bazillion articles on packing the perfect capsule wardrobe, so why do I end up with a suitcase of stuff that I don’t use?
Mind you, if you saw the ‘essential’ never-used things I carry around with me every day in my handbag my inability to streamline my packing is more understandable.
There’s always too much month at the end of the money. I play ATM lottery far too often, closing my eyes as I tap in my PIN and hoping it pays out. (Identity thieves: if you do find my secret passwords and can work out whether they’re still valid I wouldn’t waste your time and effort as there’s really nothing to take.)
I could, should, sit down and work it all out in black and white. But that’s far too scary. I can’t even tip without angst, so working out the big numbers is never going to happen. Instead I’ll stick my head in the sand as the numbers flow from my bank account like water. Even without the help of identity thieves.
Looking at the list I’m amazed I’m not in some sort of home, let alone labelled as a functioning adult!
Still, at least I know how to change a toilet roll, so I’m one up on Husband.