The joys of middle age

I'm embracing middle age: my hair's falling out, I can spell haemorrhoid and I'm beginning to enjoy DIY. My dad was always very handy. He'd spend hours pottering about in his shed producing cupboards, fruit bowls and on one occasion a drop-leaf kitchen table.

In an obvious attempt to impress him I too wanted to make something, but what? I was nine; it had to be small, simple and practical. I decided on a coffin for my hamster. My dad was speechless. So was my hamster - it hadn't died yet. I put my crayons in it instead.

Thirty-four years on and as the owner of a 200 year old flat I'm certainly not short of jobs to do.

I've been sawing, hammering and painting anything I can get my hands on. A trip to Wickes is strangely exciting. Last week a bought a file. There's something very satisfying about doing jobs around the house: fixing a cupboard door that never closed properly, building a new shelf to make life that little bit easier. As a singer I don't have much to show for my work - I do a concert and it's over - but my shelf will be there forever (as long as I used the right rawl-plugs).

I'm getting better all the time. I'm not sure I'll ever manage a drop-leaf kitchen table but if anyone's got a hamster on it's last legs...