Friday 7 July 2017

A man's got to know his limitations

I’m good at some things. My Sunday roast propels fellow diners into orgasmic rapture, I’m a more-than-decent public speaker, and the speed of my mental arithmetic makes Sheldon appear mathematically challenged. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of one’s weaknesses – in the words of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, ‘A man’s got to know his limitations’.

So here is a list of my limitations. And I’m not referring to the ‘I’m-not-quite-as-strong-at’ sort of deficiencies – no sirree – these are activities where I demonstrate such stunning incompetence that onlookers assume parts of my brain have gone walkabouts.

  1. Opening cereal boxes

Mrs Jones begs me to ask for her help when opening breakfast cereals. By the time I’ve prised off the cellophane wrap from my Kellogg’s cornflakes, I’m in no mood to explore the subtleties of the cardboard re-fastening device on the top of the box. Instead, I assault it from the flank, penetrating it with a forefinger and tearing it open. For its remaining shelf life, it sits bloated with its inners exposed, as if opened by a stick of dynamite.

  1. Singing

I love listening to popular music, but when it comes to singing I’m tone deaf. When I let fly in the shower with my rendition of the Eagles’s Lying Eyes, Mrs Jones cringes, the local authority sees a sharp rise in reported incidents of noise pollution, and the nightingales self-destruct. My attempts at the high notes have even been known to interfere with my neighbours’ Wi-Fi connection.  

  1. DIY

Men are expected to shine in the Do-it-yourself department, delighting their ladies with displays of competence around the home and garden. Not this bloke; I’m utterly useless. I’ve no idea how to rewire a plug (all those colours are so confusing), the prospect of putting up a curtain rail causes me sleepless nights, and my sole contribution to assembling a flat-pack wardrobe from Ikea is checking we’ve received the correct number of nuts and bolts (as I’ve said, I’m great at counting).

My level of ineptitude reached a humiliating high last week. Armed with my brand new hedge trimmer, I strutted into the front garden to prune the bushes. Within ten seconds, I was left holding an impotent machine with a limp six-inches of wire dangling; yep, I’d inadvertently cut through the electric cord and short-circuited the house.


  1. Wrapping presents

For 30 years, the task of wrapping Christmas and birthday gifts has usually defaulted to Mrs Jones. She excels at it. Her dressed parcels always display crisp, symmetrical edges, with a skin-tight paper covering, minimal sticky tape, and a decorative bow.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t seem right to ask Mrs Jones to wrap my gifts to her (although I have considered this option) and I’ve no choice but to do it myself. On these rare occasions, the end product looks as if it presented a moving target, one I didn’t quite catch up with. Excess wrapping paper loiters at each end of the parcel, forming unsightly bulges, and the (half-a-roll of) sticky tape appears to have been applied via a scatter gun with each piece creased and misshapen.    

  1. Drawing and artwork

I can recall sitting in an art lesson as a child and the teacher leaning over my shoulder and whispering, ‘You’re bloody useless, Jones’. That man was a shrewd judge. If I’m denied the use of words, I’m void of all creativity. My attempts at drawing resemble the scribblings of a three-year-old and, if it’s not painting by numbers, the colouring stuff remains in the box.   

  1. Directional sense

When God was giving out internal radars, he must have skipped my name. Either that or he had a sense of humour, and relished the prospect of me groping around the earth in a permanent state of spatial confusion. My sense of direction is dreadful. In a strange town I can enter a building and, when I exit, I often fail to recall which direction I approached from. Many hours have been wasted trying to find my parked the car. And when driving to a specified destination I’ve sometimes, after hours of futile circling, given up and headed for home - that is, of course, if I can find it. 

Thank goodness for the greatest invention of our time: satellite navigation.

Does anyone else care to disclose their ineptitudes?


  1. I could join you in the singing department, when I start singing it sounds fine to me and the look on my wife's face when she says "please don't do that" tells me different.

    Sorry Bryan I had to chuckle at the cutting of the hedge trimmer cord, simply because I can see this happening.

    1. Chuckle away, brother - everyone else does.

  2. My tennis instructor would, no doubt, say I have little aptitude for tennis.

    1. Yeh, racket sports - I could add that to my list as well.

  3. I love the idea of this for a blog post---I might just have to write one. Obviously, I have plenty of fodder for it since I am inept at many things....

    1. I'll await that post with eager anticipation, Marcia.

  4. HAaaaa.
    I can always get my :) SMILE on when
    I click into your British life, Mr. Jones.
    You. Literally. Crack. Me. Up.
    PS. in my house, NOBODY will allow me to touch computers or anything electronic. Mr. L. says even when I look at this sh*t, it breaks))!
    x from MN.
    PSS. but I wrap a MEAN gift!

    1. Most women do seem to be good at the gift wrapping. I wonder if it's in their genes or just that they typically get more practice? Always nice to hear that my ramblings make you smile. Take care.

  5. Mr Jones, I need you to get Mrs Jones on the line for me asap, because I have some very serious matter to discuss with her. You see, I think Mr Brian Jones is a bigamist also going by the name of Marc. Mrs Jones, did you marry my husband? Because all of the above applies! :)
    Your wife,
    Miss Bougie

  6. With entertaining writing as fantastic as this, I think you're more than forgiven for being inept at trivial non-life-dependent activities :)