By the year 2030, most men will be incapable of doing the simplest DIY jobs, says a new survey from AA Home Emergency Response. My husband is now rejoicing that he's simply "ahead of his time" rather than "useless" as I unkindly suggested last weekend.
In a scene straight out of a 1970s sitcom, he decided to put a heavy picture-frame up himself, rather than pay an extortionate amount of money to some hairy-arsed cowboy (his words). Moments later not only had the picture frame fallen, but it had taken with it the plug socket on the wall below. All of this happened with an explosion of broken glass and a spectacular blue flame that left scorch-marks up the paintwork.Only his trousers falling down could have made it more Frank Spencer.
Apparently my husband is typicalof the modern, urban "technosexual" man. I don't know what that means – I always thought technosexuals were the blokes who end up in A & E due to nude hoovering mishaps. The AAsurvey claims that by 2030 fewer than 20 per cent of men will know how to rewire a plug or repaint a room, and that by 2048 home improvement skills will be extinct.
There is already something quaintly old-fashioned about DIY, and about the notion that it's a "man's job". The gender roles are pretty fluid in our house – I've assumed quite a lot of traditional "dad" tasks, like taking out the bins and drinking too much port. Similarly, my husband doesn't shy away from "feminine" tasks such as cooking, general nagging, and being reduced to tears by One Born Every Minute.
The AA, however, seems hell-bent on making men feel bad. They're also running a TV ad campaign featuring John Cleese. The ads ask us to believe that Cleese lives with his "daughter" in a suburban semi rather than in a gold house on the moon paid for with the money from these ads.
So, the message seems to be: "Aha chaps, we've already taken over repairing your cars, now we want to emasculate you further by fixing your houses. By 2048 you'll need the AA man to fix your carburettor, put up a shelf, do your kids' homework and give your wife a damn good seeing to."
It's enough to make me pick up the toolkit and have a go at that plug socket myself. On the other hand, I might just pour another port.