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Handyman Blues

Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg may be best known for his left wing politics and punky early hits, but age appears to have mellowed the Bard of Barking (as the Essex-born performer is often known) and his output somewhat. His latest album features a highly original and very English blues song lamenting his lack of DIY prowess and inability to tell one end of a screwdriver from another.

Comedian Johnny Vegas loved the song so much that he offered to produce and direct a video to accompany it, bringing in a number of fellow comedy stars to help out. The video, which is set in a DIY superstore, features Vegas alongside a veritable who’s who of current British comedy talent, including Stewart Lee, Phill Jupitus, Ross Noble, Neil Morrissey, Ricky Grover, Kevin Eldon and Samuel West. The comedians are shown taking part in a kind of home maintenance self-help group and softly sobbing at their failure to put up curtain rails correctly.

We are sure that many of us can relate to the tales mis-handled power tools, inability to change fuses and a morbid fear of being asked to put up a shed related in the song. Some jobs are just best left to the professionals, it seems.

Bragg wrote the track in the back of a cab on his way to the airport for a recording session and it was inspired by his late father, who was obviously handy around the house. Bragg sings of his failings to his wife, although he does intimate that his skills as a wordsmith should be able to make enough to pay for someone else to undertake the jobs that she asks him to do.

Bragg has just completed a UK tour and is due to make an appearance at Glastonbury at the end of June. Whether he intends to finally put up those bookshelves for Mrs Bragg upon his return, we can only guess.


Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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