Are you a male between the ages of 18 and 35? Did you grow up in Britain and experience a relatively normal childhood? If so then you may as well just admit it - you've never bled a radiator. Nor have you changed a car wheel, rewired a plug or achieved anything meaningful with your drains. While we're being honest, you didn't change a lightbulb until you turned 18, and even then you made sure nobody was around the first time you did it in case you cocked it up. Which you did.
You may have assembled some flat pack ikea furniture. I'll give you that. Contrary to what you led your admiring to girlfriend to believe, it was neither difficult nor arduous, but you still felt the need to do it shirtless, and you treated yourself to a beer afterwards, despite secretly preferring Fanta.
How do I know this? Because for some reason between 1980 and 2000 Dads went on strike. It's an open secret. Sure they still fulfilled their basic functions, like surly bus drivers, but they kept something back from us.
I'm not a dad. I can't tell you why the strike happened. Possibly something to do with the dire performance of the national football team, or the increasingly outrageous price of a pint. The reasons are unclear. What matters is that for twenty crucial years, fathers stopped passing on their arcane but crucial knowledge of how to correctly program the boiler or the reason why they cling with such loyalty to the same paint stick. Does it have magic stirring properties? It's a mystery.
Because of this strike a whole generation of young men grew up virtually emasculated. We know how to kill thirty aliens simultaneously on Halo. We have a deep understanding of social media. If it comes to it we can even talk about meaningful things with significant others. These are achievements to be proud of. But we can't, and won't, respect ourselves until we can overcome our skills gap.
Sure we can teach ourselves. It's technically possible. I've got an actual book on DIY, which I haven't managed to open yet due to not having the correct tools. The other day I managed to change a toilet seat without any blood being shed. But even then, something is lacking. It's like when formerly fat people become thin and go on facebook to bang on about health plans and their new Nike trainers. We still secretly scorn them as arrivistes. Nouveau skinny. It lacks authenticity. What we really want is to be effortlessly svelte for life. Similarly our fathers have what seems to be an innate knowledge of useful tricks with fuseboxes that no amount of book learning can teach.
I wanted to canvass my dad as to why he never saw fit to impart his wisdom, so I headed home. When I got there though he was embarking on a trip to the dump, which as we all know is akin to a modern day pilgrimage for fathers. I could see a great bonding opportunity, plus I had the perfect rugged check shirt from topman to wear for it so I suggested I accompany him.... He told me it would be more efficient if he went alone. He was probably right. I was only mildly crushed. He probably used the solitude to listen to radio 5 and think about putting some shelves up. It's not easy being a man. I put on my rugged shirt anyway to cheer myself up and asked mum's opinion. "Oh we always had people come to the house for that sort of thing" she said airily. It's fair to say that Mum married down.
Is that it though? Do our dads think such everyday information is below their clever sons with their university degrees, tiny city flats and exciting careers in data entry? When really we're crying out for a metaphorical Alan key to open up their secrets of practicality? What is clear is that we need to open up an inter generational dialogue to find out why they're holding out on us and what their price is for full disclosure. It may require Carol Vordermann and the immediate closure of BBC3 but what price knowledge?