To Be A Man


I grew up on a council estate in North Manchester, and as a working class man, there are a number of skills that some seem to think would come naturally to me. However, I seem to be missing the working man genes for DIY, decorating, self assembly furniture, car maintenance bicycle maintenance, and having any opinion at all on football or other sports.

I am moving into a new place. The housing association have provided me with paint and tools to redecorate. It is not going well. I watch youtube videos of self assured, manly men, who make it look easy, then I try, and fail.

Who decided that we must keep inside the lines when painting? And what purpose does a skirting board serve? How do people manage to paint in straight lines?

I think housing design needs a radical rethink. We need homes with programmable, self healing, colour surfaces, an end to paint and Polyfilla. Windows we can stretch to the dimensions we require, plumbing and power wherever we need it.

This is, of course, a first world problem. I remember sleeping rough when I was homeless, and any shelter would’ve been a blessing. Sleeping in a cold, empty squat, I was glad to be out of the wind and rain. I must remember this, and when I step back and look at my patchy painted wall, with masking tape edges, be thankful for the small things, food, shelter, and my inability to decorate.

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