Tamsin Constable

What’s the knack?

First it was the curtain rail. I pulled the cord to close the curtains, and one end of the rail simply dropped out of the ceiling. It’s still dangling there. It’s been playing up for months, getting stuck and whatnot. (There was a knack.) Then the rope on the ceiling clothes airer finally wore through, frayed to a thread from years of daily pulleying. A wooden rod fell on my head, followed by a load of wet laundry. I’ve been watching the fray’s progress since summer 2006. Then one of the toilet seat rods came off. This makes thing interesting for those whose feet don’t quite touch the ground yet. (He’s getting the knack.) Yesterday it was the kitchen drawer. After months of screeching its protest as we yanked it open, deaf to its metallic wail (there was a knack, but it was quite violent), it gave up, in one final shower of fine iron filings. And now, disaster, the coffee pot. Once, it was simple: two pieces that screwed together. Hell, it used to have a handle! And a lid! Now, it’s a sensitive, demanding, needy little thing. Its collapsing parts need piecing together with more care than a scorned man. There’s a knack to both. I’m good at the coffee pot.

Now, I know people – not freaks, mind you, but real people, people who’d bleed if you pricked them, which you mustn’t, even if you sometimes feel like you want to – to whom these things would just never happen. So what’s their knack? (And why, come to think of it, are they always so well groomed?)

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