THERE’S no doubt about it. I’m a typical tradesman. Well, it’s not that I’m a real tradesman. I left the Fixing Things business shortly before The Powers That Be declared it compulsory to possess the State Letter from Dad allowing me to wield a spanner and, in that time of industrial transition, all I would have had to do to obtain same was ask for it, but I didn't.

However, I am still fairly typical of mechanics. Just about nothing I own works and I find I am not particularly motivated toward repairing anything. Oh, I've slowly accumulated swags of the appropriate tools and I could just about refit a capital warship with the stuff I have lying around the Maison De Smith, but, struth, what's the value in it? The Immutable Laws of Mechanics always prove an almost insurmountable obstruction and tend to propel me toward the abyss of psychological collapse. To illustrate, let me tell you all about what happened when I

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