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Why did the man have a tin of peas sitting on the kitchen floor next to his dishwasher? It’s not a joke; there is no punch line. Although when you hear the explanation you’ll be perfectly able to relate to it.

I think it must be part of the human condition to tolerate a situation – to put up with it and trudge on – because it’s easier than trying to come up with a proper solution. The path of least resistance is often most taken, especially when it comes to repairing things. I’ll bet you have in your house at least one makeshift solution to a broken gadget, fixture or furnishing. The best example I can give you, from many that exist in my world, is the toilet flusher that broke.

I discovered that, instead of calling the plumber out or having a go at repairing it myself, I could lift the lid off the toilet cistern and manually hoist the flush valve. Not being a DIY superman I felt quite proud of my discovery. As the weeks passed, others didn’t share my pride. The people I live with, namely my family, found it quite a nuisance to have to deal with this antediluvian method of toilet flushing. Visitors didn’t seem to want to read my laminated sheet of instructions which I’d helpfully prepared for them.

However, I’ve so many makeshift systems in place that the toilet flusher was way down the list of priorities. For instance, there are at least twelve bulbs about the house that need replacing (non-essential illumination is how I would describe the light fittings) so I leave a torch in the hall downstairs and one on the landing. The bath shower head doesn’t work unless you turn on the cold tap in the sink at the same time. The door lock of the glove compartment in my car is banjaxed so I’ve a wad of blu-tak holding it in place. During warm weather it half melts and the door constantly flops down open.

All this explains why I was so relieved when I heard the tin of peas story. A lady was telling me that her father developed a unique solution to a broken dishwasher door problem. A hinge fault was causing the door to fall below the position of being at a right angle to the machine when open, and simply land on the kitchen floor. This presented obvious problems when trying to load the lower drawer. So he placed a tin of processed peas just in front of the dishwasher and was delighted to discover it was the perfect height and level on which to rest the door when it was opened and in use.

She wasn’t sure why he picked a tin of peas; it’s possible some beans or maybe spaghetti hoops could also have done the trick, but he decided to keep the tin there permanently. Why bother having to always go and fetch it when it could simply be left on the floor? She described the bemused reaction of visitors who, naturally enough, had to ask why there was always a tin of peas in the same spot on the kitchen floor. It’s a wonderful story that perfectly illustrates our ‘it’ll do’ attitude to fixing things about the house.

However, a recent experience has caused me to re-evaluate my own attitude. The bulb went in the outside light and I had several evenings, when I’d arrive home from work having collected the kids from the crèche, of stumbling to the front door in the pitch darkness while the children wandered off complaining, leaving me holding schoolbags and trying to fish out the front door key. ‘This will not do,’ I swore to myself. I borrowed a ladder, got a new bulb and did the job. I actually solved the problem in a proper fashion; there was no leaving a torch nearby or leaving the car lights on to see our way in. And you know what? It actually felt quite good.

I immediately went on a bulb-buying spree. Admittedly the house is now lit up like a ferris wheel but at least we can put the torches away.

My plan for 2014 is to put an end to barmy homemade repair jobs. I don’t expect to become qualified in plumbing or electrical maintenance, but it can’t be that difficult to deal with the myriad minor inconveniences, one malfunction at a time. Especially if you’ve a tin of peas in your larder.

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