Things that make me go…ARGH!

outitwcPhil: At our recent Lit Fest talk, Candice explained that one important feature of our books was a strong female lead. Read any amount of chick-lit and you’ll find women who are otherwise quite sensible yet go to pieces the moment a hunky bloke appears on the horizon.

When you are a normal, functioning female, this is apparently incredibly annoying. She tells me in no uncertain terms that the female population do not spend their days swooning and dropping into a dead faint at the merest hint of manlyness – and since this never happens when I’m around, I’m bound to agree.

Anyway, I too get annoyed by characters in the media. Sadly these are often real people.

I consider myself a practical type of chap. Give me a flat-pack piece of furniture and I’m confident that I can transform it into something like the picture in the catalogue with the merest hint of hitting things and swearing. I have a working knowledge of machinery and the contents of a toolbox.

Were I a proper media luvvie however, I would have to proudly proclaim my complete ignorance of anything remotely practical. Worse, I’d hurl snide insults at the sort of people who do have practical skills. It’s well-known that when the oil runs out, those well versed in media studies will rule the world, not anyone capable of constructing shelter or purifying water.

Douglas Adams was right when he wrote about the Golgafrinchan B ark.

Anyway, there I am reading Tony Hawks latest book, Once upon a time in the West Country. Unlike previous epics involving fridges and Moldovans, this isn’t about a crazy bet but an account of his meeting someone, moving out of London, settling in the West Country and having a baby. There’s also a few chapters involving a pig and cycle ride.

All the way through though, he bangs on about being completely unable to do anything practical. If it involves tools, ratchet straps or even plugging in the battery on an electric bike, Tony is out of his depth.

A couple of times, this would be funny but it’s a constant refrain. As far as I can tell, without his next door neighbour, he’d have high-tailed it back to London after a month having been unable to work the taps in the new house. This is especially frustrating as I enjoyed the other books, think Tony is an excellent comedian and undersung charity worker.

I found all this as exasperating as my friend finds swooning ladies. How did we get to the stage when an inability to do anything, or to stay upright at the first sight of a gentleman’s chest become something to be proud of? I’m going to write some top spanner action into future books. Perhaps, like Charlene in Neighbours, even lady wielding spanner action. That will confound the stereotypes!

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