I have a book on my shelf entitled 'You Don't Need a Man to Fix It'.
I am a feminist - I believe that women and men have equal rights to the good things of life, to education and employment, and the right to walk down streets safely.
I also believe that there is nothing intrinsically masculine about mending things. Women can wield a paintbrush or screwdriver as well as a man. I know there are a few things that require brute strength - but you get the basic idea. There's no fundamental reason why I shouldn't be able to put up a shelf or paint a window.
Some years ago my iron died. (This was in the days when I did ironing. When I was travelling all my clothes lived in a rucksack and I discovered that, however, crumpled my best shirt might be, Nothing Happened! So I stopped ironing). Anyway, my iron died. So I found a screwdriver and took it to pieces, putting everything down in a logical order as I knew I'd have to put it together again. And then I looked at my book and found the instructions: it is impossible to mend irons; buy a new one.
Undeterred, I decided to sand the windowsill - it had too many overflow stains from plant pots. What a success - the windowsill was smooth as silk, and I even managed a coat of paint on it without spilling too many drips on my shoes. I turned to the sideboard: I would take it outside to sand it, I decided. Which meant taking the double glazing apart across the back doors ... my book had no instructions on what do to with several panes of glass and wooden struts when the whole thing collapses.
Soon after than the cat flap fell apart. No, I decided, I'd not try to mend it. I'd just buy a new one. Which was fine until I discovered that the holes for the old one were in a different place on the door ... a neighbour came with his four-year old to fix it.
I have tried. Honestly, I have tried. And I now accept I'm simply not good at it. I can blame my education (I was brought up to make pastry while my brothers mended the punctures on my bike). Or I can simply say that handy-stuff, like gardening and cooking, is just not one of my skills.
I'm stuck with the dissonance of knowing I should, and knowing I can't. So when the man who mended my wooden garden chairs suggested I give them a coat of something I nodded, as if I knew what he was talking about. And something else on the metalwork, he said. I nodded again.
To be fair, I managed to buy the stuff and coat the chair with weatherproofing, and it doesn't look that terrible. But if a knight in shining armour had galloped across my garden and offered a cup of tea at that moment when I dropped the can and splattered a pint of 'dark oak' across the flagstones I might have kissed him.
Does that make me a bad feminists?