Kate Livingstone: Lessons in keeping house needed now

What's the most useful thing you ever learned at school? That was a question a group of my friends deliberated over when we were chatting recently.

The subject was raised after one friend was telling us about her daughter’s new flat where she had recently set up home with her boyfriend.

Now this pair have been together for years, both have very good jobs, hence the reason they can afford this very swish property, and, well, let’s say they are not daft!

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But the things they have been asking my friend and her husband about are hilarious if it didn’t show how there seems to be a huge gap in young people’s ‘education’.

My friend explained: “It all started with a late night phone call. ‘How do you plumb in a washing machine?’ was what they wanted to know.

“I pointed out that you don’t do it at 10.30pm when the neighbours below might be in their bed and you are shoving a piece of heavy equipment about your kitchen.”

It seems our new homeowners didn’t want to miss their weekly visit to the cinema to put in their new washer, hence the lateness of the call.

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They were told that ever-obliging dad would be round the next day to lend a hand – but as you might expect our young homeowners didn’t do much.

“They hadn’t a clue,” he said in exasperation. “I eventually told them to make me a coffee and let me get on with it.”

My friend added: “But he wasn’t the only one who had to deal with them. I went with Laura to help her choose curtains and she couldn’t work out the sizing at all. I only 
just managed to stop her spending a small fortune on a pair that would have been too short.”

All this had us pondering how we picked up these ‘skills’ when we were first homeowners.

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“I think boys used to spend time helping their dads when we were younger,” suggested one.

“And we used to make curtains,” piped up another. “Your mum showed you what to do if you hadn’t been taught about it at school.”

That’s when we decided that perhaps our young people should receive some sort of basic training in useful things to know when you become a homeowner before they leave school.

Or at least point them in the right direction of some YouTube video where they can glean some skills.

Probably be a lot more useful to the majority than algebra and French verbs!

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