Impractical Jokes

Impractical Jokes by Charlie Pickering

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Authors: Charlie Pickering
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tie that started normal at the neck but ended in a crumpled coil at his feet and a look of confused fury on his face.
    â€˜Well, what am I supposed do with it?’
    â€˜I don’t know. Maybe tuck it into your shoe?’
    As it turned out, this wasn’t far from the eventual solution. For the entirety of the wedding, my father had to keep his jacket fully buttoned, lest he reveal that a good three feet of tie was stuffed into his trousers. At least, thanks to this precarious set-up, there would be no inappropriate dancing.

9
    A Tale of Two Toilets
    F or a short while, life returned to normal for the Opies and the Pickerings. Richard went back to making regulation length ties for commercial purposes and Dad went back to dispensing medication and pretending to drink pregnancy samples. Everything was as it should be. The only thing that took place that was even a little out of the ordinary was the renovation of the second story of our house which began in the summer of ’89–90.
    Anyone who has ever lived through a renovation will tell you that it is one of the most godforsaken, pain-in-the-arse activities you can subject yourself to. There are pitfalls, drawbacks, disappointments and wholesale fuck-ups that are almost impossible to predict and even less possible to prevent. The people you assume to be experts often turn out to be cowboys, deadlines you thought were inflexible bend on a whim and on an almost daily basis you find yourself thinking, ‘I must remember every detail of this because I know that one day I’ll be repeating it to a current affairs reporter.’
    Yet people persist with this masochistic farce. Why? I put it all down to propaganda. Do you know a phrase you never hear? ‘Our renovation was finished ahead of schedule, came in under budget and exceeded our expectations’. Do you know why you’ve never heard that phrase? Because renovations occur in the real world and phrases like that occur only in the fantasy land of radio advertisements for companies that perform renovations.
    And advertisers aren’t the worst offenders. A chronic overabundance of renovation shows on television have given regular people like you and me a dangerously unrealistic expectation of the ease and success of home alteration. In this ‘house porn’ all we see is some well-built guy enthusiastically pounding away at a wall with a sledgehammer, never breaking a sweat, and giving the camera a calm smile that says he could renovate for hours on end without needing to take a rest. Meanwhile, his buxom co-host with the cut-off shorts and immaculate hair is such a natural at painting and decorating that she never gets so much as a spot of Island Tide splashed on her blouse. They can work solo, in pairs, trios, or groups and never miss a beat. And when these dynamos finish the job, their hair is still as perfect as when they began.
    What you don’t see are the false starts, tears, swearing, injuries, floods and genuinely relationship-threatening conflict. You don’t see the three-day argument over a tap. You don’t see an architect, a carpenter, a plumber and two homeowners all pretend to do a poo in a woeful attempt to settle a disagreement over what height the toilet roll holder should be placed at. You don’t see the living room piled high with a whole family’s worldly possessions because all of a sudden they have no upstairs to keep it in. You don’t see the builder and the dad uncover the adolescent son’s secretly stashed copy of Playboy or the awkward conversation which follows that evening when the adolescent son comes home from school. You don’t see the grandparents shipped off to a six-week lawn bowls and poker machine retreat on the Gold Coast while the family moves into their two-bedroom house because theirs is no longer deemed liveable according to UN human rights standards. And you don’t see the youngest child, the aforementioned son,

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