We spend much of our lives trying to be useful - at least I do. I have no illusions about how useLESS I am at eg DIY. I'm not a bad cook, though, and, although not useful about the house ( called out the washine machine engineer once - he fixed it by turning on the electricity) I like to feel useful. I'm not bad at turning off lights. I'm quite good at recycling. I offer to nip down the road to get whatever is missing from the recipe - and I'm sure there are many other things, of greater or lesser moment, for which I am useful.
One likes to think that others regard one as " useful" - as in, " He's a useful chap to know". I daresay David Abrahams/Martin thought of himself similarly.
But I have few illusions about myself, and so it was with some trepidation that I set out to list my usefulness to Mrs. Lear.
Was it the cooking that came top of the list? No.
Or taking the dog for a walk at the weekends? No.
Perhaps being affable to people that I dislike? Unfortunately, not one of my attributes.
My final conclusion was that my greatest usefulness was related to my Virgoan obsessive nature.
Mrs. Lear is not very good with toothpaste. She leaves the top off ( grounds for divorce in some households) and bits hanging out the end. And lumps in the sink. And a squidgy tube, squeezed with no regard to order, so that the paste is usually at the wrong end as it has all been taken from the top.
So every morning I carefully clean up the top of the tube, put the top back on, squeeze the paste to the top, then perfectly fold over the end to produce a perfectly filled, but somewhat shorter, toothpaste tube. As with all usefulness, this is not done for praise or plaudit, merely for the satisfaction of being useful. I retire from the bathroom unobtrusively, a faint smile of satisfaction playing around my mouth.
Or perhaps I am just an obsessive, pernickity freak.
Bit like Gordon Brown, Really.