Following my recent advice about the value of Do-It-Yourself activities as a remedy for Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome
, I would like to apologise to Mrs L Darnall of North Berwick. I should have made it clear that radiator nuts are tightened by means of turning them clockwise. However, I can assure Mrs Darnall that, given the current warm weather, her fitted carpet will dry quite soon. And, with the carpet now removed, so will the floor. I would assume too that the people downstairs are insured.
Mrs Darnall's unfortunate experience notwithstanding, the palliative effect of working with one's hands during lockdown remains the only effective treatment. In fact, the need for it has in the last few days become more pressing than ever. This is due to a rumour that has been flourishing in the fertile ground of the millions of isolated and fevered micro-states which collectively now constitute our country.
The rumour has it that the Government has been spinning its reporting in the matter of personal protection equipment (PPE) for the NHS. Gullibility being a symptom of Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome, it has taken root despite all evidence to the contrary. Government ministers, for example, have noted that they and their colleagues have been doing incredibly well in the matter. In one case, a minister cited a colleague who had done very incredibly
well. Civil servants, too, have been doing fantastic work, the service as a whole doing incredibly fantastic
work. And one of the Government's senior medical officers even observed that the matter of PPE was a 'high burn rate situation'. Moreover, no less an authority than Jacob Rees Mogg has explicitly denied that the Government is spinning.
It is an indicator of the severity of Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome that all of this has been received with disbelief – or incomprehension in the case of the medical officer – with Mr Rees Mogg's denial serving only to confirm the truth of the rumour in the frenzied minds of sufferers. Consequently, the need for advice on the distractive qualities of undertaking DIY projects around the home has increased dramatically. And it is that which I propose to offer today.
In accord with the requirements of lockdown, I am going to demonstrate how to do things using only tools and materials already available in most normal homes. First, I would like to show you how to fix things to a brick wall using cornflakes.
Many people have observed that when something that is fixed to a wall comes loose, the screw holding it often comes away with a substantial part of the wall still attached to it. The result is a large hole. Such a hole could be filled with filler. But, given the size of the hole, it would take weeks to dry. Even then, it would crumble if you tried to screw something into it. This is where cornflakes come in. Add warm milk to the cornflakes in the normal way. Any milk will do but semi-skimmed is best. Drain off the excess milk once the cornflakes are sodden. Then take handfuls of the mixture and squeeze until the milk stops dripping out.
Now stuff the cornflake putty into the hole, tamping it down firmly as you go. A lady's high-heeled shoe is ideal for this, the heel serving as the tamping tool. Keep tamping until the cornflake surface is a couple of millimetres or so proud of the surrounding plaster. When the plug is dry, take a cheese grater to it until it is flush with the plaster. This plug will now take any screw and hold it firmly along with most weights which might be placed upon it. It may even take the weight of a wall-mounted television, although it might be best not to try that with an old-fashioned cathode ray television.
I would like now to look at how to fill gaps in wooden floorboards using only water and newspapers. As well as being unsightly, such gaps are unhygienic. They harbour fluff, dead insects, gritty deposits and other horrors. The first step is to scrape this out. Nail files are good for that.
Tear the paper into small bits. Soak the bits overnight in a large cooking pot before boiling it for about half an hour. Drain off the excess water and put the mixture in a blender. Strain the resultant slurry through a pair of tights. The paste will be ready to use once it has cooled.
Firmly press the paste into the floorboard gaps. A credit card is good for that if the gaps are narrow. Where the gaps are wider, kitchen utensils such as spatulas and cake-lifters can be used. Keep tamping the paste until it is a little proud of the surface. When it is thoroughly dry – which may take some time – grate it until it is flush with the surrounding floorboards. With that done, you can now replace the underlay and the carpet.
Now a word of warning. All treatments for medical conditions carry the risk of unpleasant side effects. The treatment of Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome with DIY activities is no exception. However, these side effects differ from ordinary side effects in one crucial respect. That is that they do not affect the person doing the DIY. Rather, they affect the other person or persons in the house. Already suffering from Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome, such persons will be vulnerable to outbursts of disproportionate irritation, a symptom which can be exacerbated by DIY activities. In these circumstances, it would be advisable to clean thoroughly any utensils or items of clothing employed in the DIY.
Particular attention needs to be given to the matter of the high-heeled shoe used as a tamping tool. Research has shown that perceived damage to such an item can provoke a sizeable and unusually unhinged response.
Consequently, I would most strongly advise either securing the owner's permission first or thoroughly cleaning away any residue left on the shoe before surreptitiously returning it to her wardrobe.