John Walker's Electronic House

Handy Man

by on Mar.03, 2006, under The Rest

Occasionally I am A Man.

Brian was late today due to a combination of being up all night working, and being up all day working too, and a broken stylus for my magical drawing tablet. It’s been a bit dodgy for a while now, and while too busy/lazy to investigate what was wrong, I had at least discovered that if I didn’t screw the top to the bottom completely tightly, it was functional. Today, even that didn’t seem to help. So it was time for a proper investigation.

Clearly the contact between the magical pixiewires inside and the battery was incomplete, but only when fully joined together. This seemed counter-intuitive, until like the scientific genius I truly am, I realised that the thread onto which the top half screws was being pulled up from its base upon closure. FASCINATING! My first attempt at a repair did not succeed – surprising in light of its simple cunning. I decided I would hold it in place with Sellotape. But I couldn’t find any. The only appropriately gluey material about was a box of sticky white labels I never remember I have when I Sellotape white paper over old addresses on packages I’m sending to people when I’m too cheap to buy a new padded envelope (all the time). Which would suggest I do have tape somewhere. Sadly torn strips of white sticker are shockingly not adequate affixative for holding a metal thread to a metal pen. I know. More drastic and scientific methods were required.

How about pushing the battery from the other end? The other contact was unreachably buried in the top of the hollow pen, but what if a small amount of metal were to exist between the contact and the battery? Could this be the Macgyver moment I was waiting for? All I needed was some metal that would fit in. After pondering the conductivity of tin foil, but deciding that if it should be obvious that it wouldn’t work, I really shouldn’t try it so I would never have to admit to having done so, I then noticed the metallic band on a nearby thin paintbrush. Sorry Mr Paintbrush – your life is given for the greater good.

To the kitchen, then, where all wood and metalwork is destined to take place. Using an old, un-used kitchen knife (read: one of Jonty’s), I sawed a small chunk of the metal-encased wooden cylindar from its moorings. Ka-ping! Success. Dropped it into the inside of the pen, screwed it up as much as I could, and ta-da! Brian! I overwhelm myself sometimes.

It reminded me of my favourite moment of manly improvisation, when I lived in Stoke on Trent, during a half-hearted and half-finished attempt at university there. We lived in an area that had frequent break-ins. In fact, our garage was broken into so regularly that we stopped attempting to lock it, and instead used it to store items we wanted rid of, but were too lazy to take to the tip. The next morning they be magically gone.

However, this meant we were somewhat concerned about the sanctity of our sacred grounds, and the fact that the chubb lock on our back door appeared to be glued on. In the 1970s. We called the landlord over, the ironically named Dave Goodfellow, to have this sorted. He snorted at our assertion that glue was not the ideal means of having it hold the baddies out, took a screwdriver, and removed the rust-worn screws that were propping the thing up. More sliding out than unscrewing, he took his catch and held it up to us. “Look at that!” he commanded. “Never been removed, that, ever.” The peculiarity of such a claim appeared lost on him, as he pushed them back into their holes and left the house.

So it was left to us. Us three men. Men of the world. Men with literally no tools other than a hammer. Most things we fixed in our collapsing home with a hammer, but on this occasion we could see now way for it to help. We purchased a new Yale lock, removed the previous one by, and I swear this is true, pulling it off the door. And then, in a series of improvisations that still fill me with pride to this very day, we affixed the Yale lock, cutting the metallic block to size and all, using only a bread knife and a pair of scissors.

We were beautiful.

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