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Ronan's report

Sunday December 4th 2011

I'm always impressed with the DIY stuff that turns up on the Manshit forum. There are people building houses, chopping wood, skinning deer, making knives and loads of other amazing things.

Me? I can barely work out how to turn on the dishwasher and I usually come out in a rash if I have to go to a hardware shop.

But this week was different. I built something.

Well I say "built", I guess there was something there before I started: A dog kennel.

We don't have a dog and don't plan to get one anytime soon. But what I do have is a shed that I couldn't actually get into, it being filled with old paint tins (from previous owners), rusting bikes, defunct barbecues, and other essential shed-items.

So my cunning, and perfectly executed, plan was to clad the dog kennel with weatherboard and turn it into SHED2, thereby doubling my essential-shed-item storage capacity at a stroke, and establishing my reputation forever as "a man who can build stuff". Excellent.

More amazing to me than the fact that six days later the thing is still standing, is the immediate generosity on hand from people when they know you're about to try something. Friends immediately offered nail-guns (now there's a fun piece of kit!), chop-saws, and their own time to help me get the thing finished. My neighbour even volunteered to finish the thing off on his own when I had to nip off to work. Star!

I've never been a particularly cynical person, and like to believe the best in people. But as I get older, one of the best things I've discovered is that we humans, taken individually are generally a good lot.

I've often been left standing open-mouthed as friends have selflessly offered fishing, kit, accommodation, time and expertise, and what-not. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Quite humbling. Thanks guys.

All this has led to me reflecting on my own actions. Am I a generous person? I think I try to be. But I'm not sure it comes naturally. Mostly this is because I'm never really sure I have much of value to give (anyone want a rusty bike or a barbecue?).

So in the coming year I'm going to try harder. I'm going to take more people fishing, give time to helping out where I can; I might even help out if someone needs a hand building something.

Just so long as I'm the one that gets to use the nail-gun.


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