On my way in to London last week to appear on The Wright Stuff – someone very eminent on the radio – a social scientist explained that young girls should be given Lego and Meccano as presents and I tutted.
What a load of tosh – social engineering nonsense I’m afraid. Give girls Lego and watch them build kitchens or a pram I thought to myself and I hoped that the topic would not be included in the show because if I were to say something so unreconstructed on telly, then surely the trolls would come for me?
Turns out I didn’t need to – because the topic did crop up but this very point was made by Lord Robert Winston no less.
‘It’s innate’, the famous and celebrated doctor explained and I nodded sagely. Boys are programmed to build stuff and girls are programmed to nest and nurture being the thrust of his argument.
That said, the social engineers are determined to re-write this programme but until then, the sexes will continue on as our DNA dictates.
Despite this – like most men of my age and background – I am spectacularly useless with my hands. I can type (two fingers), sign my name, operate my phone and I’m deft and completely confident with cutlery and that is about it.
And yet I still try to build stuff in and around my house and then haplessly watch skilled men put it right.
On this, my humiliation is particularly acute because I have married in to a family of ‘real’ men. My Father-in-law is brilliant with his hands. He built the kitchen that I am sitting in now and the table on which I am now leaning – particularly irksome since this wasn’t even his profession and was just a side-line for the showing off bastard. Two of my brothers-in-law are fully trained up though – master craftsmen making libraries and cabinets and libraries out of walnut and maple.
So with this background and the winter about to visit us again, I set about to build a wood store in the garden because we now have a wood burner – or marriage saver because the annual argument over when is an appropriate date to fire up the central heating and what is a reasonable temperature has finally been put paid to.
My attempt at a wood store was not going well – but Nikki was relaxed because she has her dad on speed dial and no doubt, he would be ready and waiting with his chisels and wry smirk.
Like most wives, Nikki runs our house. Everything goes through and needs to be signed off by the Holland matriarch. Not sure if you know, but our eldest son, Tom has the hair-brained idea of becoming an actor and as precarious a career that this is (not to mention what happened to the bright lights of her husband’s efforts in show business), Nikki decided that Tom should acquire a skill much more tangible than merely pretending to be someone else.
He needs something to fall back on.
And so a year ago – during a fleeting lull in his acting schedule – Tom was dispatched to a residential carpentry course – in Cardiff. Working with ex-squaddies and ex-cons retraining, Tom was the youngest in the class of 2014…
Currently working on a film in Belfast, Tom came home a few weeks ago whilst I was wood store mid-build – and my son’s reaction was not good.
Dad, what is that?
‘It’s a wood store. It’s to keep mum’s wood dry so she doesn’t freeze her ass off by mid-September…’
Immediately, Tom’s caveman kicked in. Whatever plans he had for the weekend, he dropped them and decided to save his dad instead. What a hero, I thought to myself – a super-hero even?
And as in so many ways of late, I deferred to my ‘little’ boy and became his workmate doing exactly what I was told.
And remarkably, my wood store took shape – functions perfectly and is now available for all to see and admire.
The wood working course had been a good idea after all even though Tom had not been able to complete the course.
But useful skills were acquired and have already borne fruit. Mum is happy because she is warm. And Dad is happy because if ever we come to sell this house, I can see an upside already…
A period property lovingly restored to its former glory by the current owner (and relatives) including a wood store in the garden made by Spider-man himself.
(The complete story of how tom holland Eclipsed his dad is available on Kindle – and this post was written by DH and not by Luke Baldwin as it is states here – which is a tech reason that is beyond my skill-set)