When I was young, my

When I was young, my dad tried to teach me a valuable lesson: �DIY stands for Don�t Involve Yourself � never do anything that you could pay someone else to do for you.� I didn�t agree with him at the time, and generally I still don�t, but I�m beginning to see his point. I�m tired now. I�m tired of spending fifteen minutes searching the entire house for the right screwdriver to do a two-minute job. I�m tired of involving myself and I�m tired of DIY stores.

At first I found them fascinating - a wonderful arena for people watching. It tickled me to see them wander from aisle to aisle wearing a very distinctive and instantly recognisable look � a sort of bewilderment mixed with a certain grim determination. I found it funny when I passed the same people ten minutes later; the same expressions still fixed on the their faces in �Plumbing� as they had worn in �Paint�.

Men won�t ask for directions when they�re lost, and the same rule applies in the DIY store. They�d rather stare at the same shelf for half an hour trying to work out if they could change all the other details of their current �project� to match the widget that�s not quite the right size, than just swallow their pride and ask a store assistant where they keep the widgets that are the right size.

Not that there ever are any store assistants on hand to help anyway � the women have them all. Women have some sense; they just walk through the front door and straight up to the information desk. They don�t pretend to know what they�re talking about either. They just state their problem; ask what they need to fix it, and then ask where those things are kept.

The only time women ever waste in DIY stores is the time they spend wandering the aisles looking for their lost husbands.

All of this was mostly funny and enjoyable to observe � as usual, the sense of being on the outside astutely looking in made me feel like I was above it all � until I realised that I�d become a DIY store zombie myself. More shocking was the realisation that perhaps I�d been one all along.

The guy in front of me in the queue last night - we had passed several times in the previous 45 minutes as we both shuffled between �Tools� and �Timber� - had a nicer set of electrical screwdrivers than I had. All shyness cast aside (we were shuffle buddies after all), I asked him where he�d found them. He told me and I left the queue and got myself some. This was a bridge too far.

The jovial chat and exchange of leaking sink stories with the complete stranger last week was OK � that was a Dunkirk-spirit type thing. The knowing nods and eye rolling with another wannabe plumber when we both discovered they�d run out of 22mm valves at the same time was alright too � even though I didn�t need one; nor would I exactly have known what one looked like had there been any there.

But last night was too much. It took me three-quarters of an hour to find a setsquare that�s probably too small, some floor underlay that�s probably the wrong thickness, some replacement blades for a junior hacksaw that still has a perfectly good blade in it, and some electrical screwdrivers that turned out to be not as nice as the other guy�s.

I need to revert to my old self. I need to return to my parental roots and plead ignorance or helplessness when I go to these places. That way, by the time I get back to the house, it might still be daylight and I might be able to work on the electrics as I�d planned to without having to use a torch.