Being an electrician was never going to be a personal talent, life skill or my strong suit. If copper wires sheathed in multi-coloured plastic had feelings of their own, they would hold me in abject disdain for my attempts at stripping their ends, inserting them into the correct microscopic apertures and screwing them tight, least a stray strand should cause a shortage of the variété de fatalité naturelle……
I received my first ‘Careers Advice’ at the age of nine or ten. Prior to attending Secondary School, or High School as it is now called, (or in my case, Grammar School), I was given a sheet of paper that listed all the jobs that I wouldn’t be able to do. That piece of paper is still in my possession as a crushing reminder to what might have been, as it then proceeded to destroy the burgeoning desires and dreams of a child whose family had been members of the Armed Forces and served their country through times of war and peace. Not only did the paper stipulate that I would not be acceptable for the role that all my senior family members had taken an active part in, but it also implied that I would not be able to become a train driver, a printer, an electrician or many other professions that involve the use of differentiating between colours.
When M and I purchased our present home, it is fair to say that the preceding occupier was happy to have-a-go at any job around the house in any trade he turned his hand to, but not always with the professionalism that would have befitted the talent of a Master Craftsman. He lived here for twenty five years prior to selling to us, so his individual style of handiwork has been unearthed in every quarter. The whole central heating system, all pipework, radiators and boiler have now been changed to conform to proper standards. We have spent several years changing windows, as the previous ones were obviously a ‘job lot’, made to fit the brickwork surrounds. We now have individually made-to-measure windows properly fitted.But the problem that caused a qualified electrician who came to assess our wiring most concern, was that we could only use the oven and one hob at a time. Turning on the other three hobs at the same time as the oven caused the circuit breaker to flip out due to overloading.
I knew that it needed a thicker cable rather than the standard extension lead it used and a higher rated fuse in the circuit board, but I’m not the person to fiddle around with coloured wires, as I found out in 1986, when I returned to England from Belfast, Northern Ireland and moved into a new home. The purchase of a new electric cooker, which needed hard wiring into the cooker socket, necessitated the removal of the old cooker first. I left the exposed wires on the work surface behind my tool box and took the old cooker to the recycling disposal centre. In my absence, the previous Mrs J came into the house and in making a cup of tea, moved the tool box, which in turn moved the wire close enough to the metal sink and, in a blinding flash of electricity, welded the wire to the sink rendering the whole sink ‘live’! Surely her accusation of attempted homicide was a little strong? I also won’t mention the gramophone incident when, poking about in the innards of an antique record player, I had switched off the machine but not the mains, resulting in me being flung across the room in the twinkling of an eye, feeling like a mule had kicked me firmly in the chest! I won’t mention that incident at all……As I said, wiring is not my strong suit! What could possibly be wrong in me removing a light switch and replacing it with a plug socket fascia, to power the running machine in the conservatory?We have had the electrician correct the wiring to the present cooker so that M doesn’t have to employ other people’s cookers as she did last year when trying to cater for a plethora of people at Christmas! Meeting up with the electrician with his wife and children at the Charity Barn Dance we held last week, M mentioned that “at least it is all safe to use now”.
He said, “It might be safe, but don’t go in the conservatory!”
“I thought we agreed not to talk about that!!!” retorted M.
The simple fact is that I cannot see the difference between certain shades of grey and pink; green, brown and red, and a multitude of pastel colours that all seem to be ‘pale’. Sir Terry Wogan would often discuss at great length, buff, sandy, khaki, ecru, stone, taupe, coffee, fawn or even mushroom, in reference to ‘light brown beige’, just to throw even more confusion into my already colour-blended world. M is always attempting to get me into a pink shirt under the guise of it being grey! I have resorted to quizzing sales staff to check that purchased clothes are indeed the colour M purports them to be!
So although I have an abiding disgruntled annoyance at not being allowed to join the Armed Forces, I did manage to spend twenty five years in the Printing Industry producing many quality Military Journals and other publications and material. I used electronic spectrodensitometers to quantify ink levels to be able to produce finished result of standards that met all client requirements, whether or not I could personally see them.My colour-blind world has not totally stopped me from doing what others said was impossible. Although there may be things in life that stop us from pursuing a desired path, another will make itself known if we keep looking for it, so never stop pushing the boundaries of possibility.
Carry on regardless!