Letting off steam in the shed – it’s a man thing | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

Wine, flowers, chocolate and... kettle.

By Alun Newman
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 9:09 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 9:09 am

Sounds a bit like one of those memory games you might play with a car full of children to keep them occupied, doesn’t it?

You know the sort. Everyone takes it in turns to name an item and has to remember all the others added.

Except this is not a memory game. It is a list that caused some controversy.

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Fixing something is much more fun than sitting around a table chatting. Picture: Adobe Stock

We were going to have a curry with some friends and as is now the custom when you go to someone’s house you take ‘stuff’.

In the old days, you would take a bottle of wine. Just a bottle of wine.

Nowadays, for reasons I don’t fully understand, that’s not quite enough.

Today you have to take wine, flowers, a sofa, loft conversion and a holiday home in the south of France.

Before you ask, yes, I have tried saying something but it simply unleashes a wave of accusations, most of which involve me being tight.

It became clear that going with the flow is a far better option.

So, on this occasion, we were visiting some good friends and ‘he’ is an electrical engineer and loves mending things. He’s actually part of a local repair cafe.

He’s got a little online side-business of stuff and the number of projects waiting to be ‘repaired’ has been allocated separate shed space because of a recent argument that he lost.

He is, however, a repair genius. He’s able to fix things that have been ‘bonded’ together. He can even fix electrical items when you can’t, for love nor money, see where it’s screwed together.

On the same day of our curry night, our kettle packed up.

It’s no ordinary kettle, it's a flashy one we bought to celebrate our latest house move.

It was expensive. The price of three kettles from Argos. It looked cool though. It was flashy. Polished silver. Sadly, it stopped working.

As we were leaving our house to go out for our curry night, along with the wine, chocolate and flowers, I took the kettle for some diagnosis and possible repair.

But this was met with resistance. I was informed that taking broken electrical items to a couple of friends we haven’t seen since Christmas was rude.

Was it? I thought it was a great idea.

The thing about genius repair people is they love being genius repair people.

The other worry apparently was that we (the two blokes) would get lost repairing this thing for the whole night and not get to catch up properly.

A bit of back and forth followed and, guess what, I won.

We arrived armed with curry, wine, flowers, chocolate and a broken kettle.

My friend was delighted, his wife rolled her eyes, my wife rolled her eyes, I was delighted.

Was it rude to assume assistance? I thought not because he could always say no.

Did it detract from the evening? Well… not if you count two men throwing a curry down their necks and then spending the next three hours dismantling the world’s most complicated kettle.

We were like surgeons performing a task that few in the world could take on.

Layer after layer of hidden screws and impossible plastic clips.

Finally, we got to the problem to find a burnt-out element. A quick check online and the unit was the same price as a new kettle.

It was a great night. We even rebuilt it again as apparently that’s good for assembly knowledge for similar items.

We may have arrived with curry, wine, chocs, flowers and a broken kettle but we came back not just with a broken kettle but precious knowledge. You can’t put a price on a high-octane night like that. Our washing machine is on the blink’ at the moment. Get the diary and a jalfrezi!


I recently had a few days away in London and was keen to check out a new type of hotel which seems to be all the rage.

The best way of describing it is a place where you can rent micro-rooms.

I was not sure about its appeal but I wanted the experience.

The rooms are small, but there’s enough space for a small double bed and a plastic pod that contains the loo, sink and shower in a space smaller than a changing cubicle at the swimming pool.

You have to do everything slowly otherwise if you drop your shower gel you end up pulling the flush and turning on the hot tap.

It was hilarious in a strange almost prison-esque way.

Here’s the strange part.

As the room is so small, you'd struggle to get to the convenience if you had a large suitcase. It would block you in.

You can leave your case with reception, which costs extra.

A room with a window? That’s also an extra charge. Would you like wi-fi? That’s extra.

There’s a TV in the room. What’s that? You’d like to watch the TV, that’s extra too. Want to check out later than 10am? You guessed it. That was extra.

It starts as a cheap room and as long as you deny yourself any fringe pleasures that are currently available to most humans in the country, it stays as a cheapish room.

It was clean and conveniently located and to finish, I will never do it again.

It was as close to prison as I can imagine. In fact, I don't think they have to pay for the TV.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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