Andy Richardson: A screwdriver . . . isn’t that a cocktail?
Thank God it’s (not) Christmas. No, no, really. Thank God. Thank Gareth Gates, Bill Gates and thank Benjamin Franklin Gates too. Christmas has cleaned me out. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Christmas hasn’t cleaned me out. My ineptitude in the face of technology has acted like a vacuum cleaner in a bank account full of really-easy-to-suck-up notes.
There have been errors. There have been more errors. And then there have been errors on the top of errors. And those errors have come at a price.
So thank God it’s (not) Christmas. Let’s ask the ghost of Freddie Mercury to re-record his 1984 Christmas song as a duet with the still-going-strong-at-84 Montserrat Caballé where they add a strategically-placed ‘not’ into the chorous.
My Christmas has been like a really, really tall, multi-layered, stretches-to-the-ceiling Battenburg cake, with each little cube of different coloured sponge representing another mistake. For while there’s some stuff in life that I’m really quite good at (erm, being able to distinguish between a cashew nut and a macadamia nut, for starters) – there’s other stuff that makes me feel like a map-less, SatNav-less, compass-less explorer who’s been blindfolded and dropped into a limestone cave beneath Dudley Zoo and told: “Go find the flamingos, Indiana. They’re up there somewhere.”
It started in December. The Boy-Wonder-Ginger-Nipper Son suggested it might be nice to sit down together and watch a Minions DVD, or, if I was feeling really generous, a Minions DVD followed by a Cars 3 DVD. He smiled the smile that said: “Remember dad, I’ll be the one at the controls when you’re in a nursing home. Please me now and I’ll get you the upgrade with a garden view 45 years from now.” I acquiesced. What father doesn’t put blatant self-interest before saving a few bob during a trip to Sainsburys.
“Let’s do both,” I said, happily, making a mental note to go for the garden view but to also ask for the super deluxe lunchtime menus when he locks me up in Cozzee Oldies in half a life’s time.
He selected the DVD. “No,” I said, gallantly, picking the Minions box set from the shelf. Let’s do this properly.
Armed with four discs, we exited the store. And then, 20 minutes later, having forgotten to pick up the receipt, I realised we’d bought the wrong ones. Blu-ray discs apparently don’t play in DVD players. I called the store. “That’s fine,” they told me. “We’ll have your credit card numbers.” Except I hadn’t realised Boy-Wonder-Ginger-Nipper Son had already unwrapped the discs, making them unexchangeable. There were two options. Write off the £25 quid or spend another £50 on a Blu-ray player. I opted for the latter. I call it Man Economics. When you’ve made a mistake, spend more money to compound your earlier error. It works every time. And so an evening in that ought to have cost a fiver and a packet of crisps had already escalated to £75, plus the crisps.
I imagined the Blu-ray player would arrive the next day. It didn’t. It took two weeks. And the discs sat on the TV stand for 14 long days, taunting me and my God Damn folly.
The two weeks weren’t idly spent, however. I decided I’d go LARGE in that tricky fortnight by buying him a motoristed ride-on car.
It was being advertised for half the going rate, so, instead of being £NoChance, it was now £HaHaHaHowMuch? I bought one.
It arrived in a box that was roughly the same size as a proper car. You know, nothing big, like a Jag or a Rover, but definitely on the same scale as a Skoda Octavia hatchback or a Honda Civic. I unwrapped the components. A cold sweat washed over me as I realised I was supposed to build a car before Christmas.
I know what to do with a screwdriver. A screwdriver is, as everyone knows, a highball cocktail comprising vodka, orange juice and orange soda. The ride-on car, however, called for a screwdriver by the name of Phillips.
“Odd,” I thought, “To give a name to a cocktail.”
My partner pointed at the flat-head screws. “You’ve got to assemble it with the screwdriver.”
We screwed and slotted and eased and pushed. We followed the instructions like Mr and Mrs Ikea, carefully making sure the washers went in all the right places and the steering column was secured by a bend-back pin. Sorted.
I plugged it in to charge before returning 12 hours later to press the start button and give it a test run.
I flicked the switch. Nothing.
I flicked the switch again. Nothing . . . So thank God it’s (not) Christmas. And thank God that despite my inabilities with a screwdriver, my kid still had the best Christmas of his life and thinks his dad is the greatest in the world.