It’s a bit rich, as the restrictions on movement are gradually eased, to hear from the uber-smug that there are things from this period of lockdown that we shouldn’t just maintain but actually cherish.

If you have a comfortable house, a garden, youthful good health, a steady income and an understanding employer, perhaps it’s easier to leave this phase of the pandemic feeling more enlightened than imperilled. But honestly, mate, nothing was stopping you baking banana bread and looking at the birds before.

And given that a member of SPI-B, a government advisory group on pandemic behaviours, last week suggested that we’re only “10-15% through” the history of Covid-19, perhaps you’ll get the chance again. However, seeing as there are those for whom the worst thing about going out is more dangerous than queueing around a supermarket car park and those who will find staying indoors a lot more sinister than missing a haircut, I’ll spare you my similarly patronising thoughts.

Well, almost. Sorry. If you, reader, like me, struggle to finish things (notable exceptions including packets of biscuits), I hope you’ve discovered, as I have, that it wasn’t, as we thought, actually our fault all along. Ha! At last. If only we’d known. I’ve had mechanical projects over the years, and my justification for having them has always been that they’re fun to do, that the process itself is the enjoyable part of it.

You’re darned right that I’ve told other people – and, more pertinently, myself – that the joy of having an old car or motorcycle in a state of dysfunction is the occasional few hours I rarely spend working on it. That’s total nonsense, obviously. Always was. Any japes in clearing the fuel lines of a Volkswagen Beetle again before it will reluctantly start? Or any in wheeling a 125cc Honda out of the way so I can get to the lawnmower?

Is there heck. Each time I have to do either, it’s just a bitter reminder of my hopelessness, a dagger twisted in the heart of the optimism that I once had several years earlier. The occasional Saturday spent with oily, bloody knuckles, cold tea and profuse swearing to feel nowhere by the end of it? Pah. The gruelling truth is that I’ve had ‘quick projects’ that ‘only need a bit of tidying here and there’ for, well, let’s not consider how long.

Prior 1450