The List

I approach most of my days off with a mixture of joy and apprehension. Joy at the thought of not having to rise at 6am. Apprehension at the thought of my wife mentioning 'THE LIST'. Immediately all husbands/male partners will come out in a cold sweat and want to lift the newspaper to cover their eyes so as not to catch the gaze of their beloved spouse. My 'List' includes a variety of jobs that need doing around the house. Now you need to understand how my good lady works when it comes to such requirements. She doesn’t actually say that I have to do them; she just raises the issue in passing and leaves the subject hanging in the ether. 'The porch light isn’t working' or 'The garage is getting cluttered'. Faced with such statements of fact I have the option to nod in agreement and do nothing about it; in theory at least. In practice the very fact that the words have been spoken is enough to place the burden firmly on my shoulders. My track record is not good when it comes to dealing with the list. I might well respond by visiting the garage and, after switching the radio on, move boxes around in an attempt to 'tidy' the space. In truth I spend more time getting the radio tuned into the correct station and examining the contents of my special box of oddments. All men have them and they are always a source of joy. They are the male equivalent of the large jar of buttons that that my mother kept in her sowing cupboard. This all seems a world a way now and a couple of things strike me as nostalgically amusing. First the idea of having a whole cupboard dedicated to ‘sowing’ and secondly, the thought of actually saving buttons. I can’t imagine that either of these too oddities would be part of modern life. I suppose that the main difference between my mother’s collection jar and my own over filled container is one of purpose. She actually did get round to using them from time to time. My assortment of nonsense just sits and calls to me every time I enter the garage. The container reveals much about the random way in which I choose to save things; it probably reveals quite a lot about the state of my mind too. It contains several magnets saved from fridge door toys. One piece of chalk formally part of a puncture repair outfit. A rubber foot from the bottom of a TV. One rechargeable battery: the charger being broken and discarded many moons ago. A plastic peg for securing a guitar string. One rubber ball from a computer mouse. One wing nut from an old magazine rack. Three replacement Christmas tree bulbs: kept even though we bought a fibre optic type four years ago. Two counters form an old game of Cludo. All of these are housed together with a collection of drawing pins, washers and paperclips. I keep the special box in the garage because periodically my wife has a ‘whizzing’ session and I have to dive in to save important objects before they are lost to the green, corporate world of recycling. The porch light was mentioned nearly ten months ago so I really do need to take the time to fix it. The problem is that it is completely enclosed and the wood around the fixing plate seems a little suspect. I am concerned that if I remove it I will be left with further work to add to the list, involving screws, nails, glue, varnish and other representations of real work. In reality it takes me seven and a half minute to fix; of which four were getting the step ladders off the wall and positioning them safely below the light fitting (I also had time for a sip of coke and a bite of my mid morning toast). 'How come it was so easy but took you the best part of a year to fix it' asks my wife, not unreasonably. 'It needed a coat of looking over first' I said and scurried off to play with my collection of magnets.

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