Belfast Telegraph

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Forget Phil Neville, these well-known NI people can't master simple tasks either

By Kerry McKittrick

It's fair to say that many wives across the country could bemoan their husband's failings in the kitchen. Burnt toast, badly stacked dishwashers and discarded underwear are common domestic bugbears.

But spare a thought for Julie Neville, the long-suffering wife of football pundit Phil Neville.

She recently shamed her spouse when she revealed his inadequacies around the home during an interview on Radio Five Live.

It seems the 37-year-old former Manchester United and England star made his first ever cup of instant coffee last month - but only after ringing his wife for advice.

Julie later disclosed that throughout their 15-year marriage, her husband had never once used an oven, vacuum cleaner or dishwasher and had no idea where the ironing board was kept in their multi-million pound Cheshire home.

Describing herself as "super-domesticated", Julie Neville admitted her husband's talents lay in his nifty footwork.

We speak to ten local celebrities to find out what simple chores they find impossible to do.

Lynda can't ... make poached eggs

Lynda Bryans (51) is married to former broadcaster and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt (56). After a successful career in TV, Lynda balances running media production company Take I Take II with her husband, lecturing at the Belfast Metropolitan College and being mum to PJ (19) and Christopher (17). She says:

When it comes to making proper poached eggs, I'm terrible. The ones you see chefs cooking in attractive little quenelle shapes. Mine either separate into strands or flop out all over the pan of water.

I can pass myself off in the kitchen so it can be quite frustrating. I can cook all sorts of other eggs fine, even soft boiled, and I like to have a poached egg in the morning sometimes.

We have two boys and they can both make me a cup of coffee, even in a cafetiere if needs be. They know how to look after themselves and I would have often left a casserole and asked them to stick it in the oven before I got home for dinner. My younger son is certainly becoming a dab hand in the kitchen and is taking an interest in food. Neither of them will ever starve."

Brenda can't ... cook rice or pasta

Brenda Shankey (42), runs Jason Shankey Male Grooming with her husband Jason and lives in Belfast with their children Lauren (12), and Will (10). She says:

I cannot cook rice at all. I asked my son about this and he wholeheartedly agreed and says I can't cook anything like rice, cous cous or pasta. I'm not a brilliant cook anyway. I'm good at one pot wonders - stick everything in a pot first thing in the morning, then it goes in the Aga for the rest of the day.

I think it's important that people learn life skills. A girl came to work for me in the salon to gain work experience once and I asked her to make some coffee - just the instant stuff - and she didn't know how because her mum always did it for her. I was horrified. The first thing I did when I got home was to ask the kids to make me a cup of coffee - they were only little then. I've now taught my children the basics. They can boil eggs, make cottage pie and lasagne - I spent Saturday mornings teaching them how. They can make staple dishes now because there can be two or three nights when I'm not here and we don't like them eating ready meals. They can also put on a wash and turn on the dishwater."

Rebekah can't ... learn to parallel park her own car

Rebekah Shirley (18) is the current Miss Northern Ireland and hails from Ballymoney. She says:

I'm terrible at parallel parking - it's my biggest challenge. It's my New Year's resolution to try and learn how to do it properly. If you can't park a bus in the space then I have to just drive on and find another spot as it just won't happen. I'm not a dab hand in the kitchen yet, either. My mum is a great cook but I plan to learn all that sort of thing when I go off to university later in the year. I can certainly make a cup of coffee, though."

Rigsy can't ...  manage to put a duvet cover on

David ‘Rigsy’ O’Reilly, (36) presents Across The Line On BBC Radio Ulster each Monday evening from 8-10pm. He says:

The thing that frustrates me the most is trying to put the duvet cover on. I'm absolutely convinced that the only person in the world who can do it right is my mother. She's the only one I've ever seen being able to do it properly.

I know the theory, I put my hands inside the cover and find the corners but then I tend to end up wearing the cover like a giant shroud. Then I try to wiggle out of it and sort of flick it over on to the duvet but I get a bit lost after that. I try to paw around and pull bits out manually so I end up with lumpy duvets with thick bits and empty bits. My mild OCD means I can't sleep unless it's absolutely perfect.

I pay someone £10 to come and mow the lawn during the summer and I would rather pay someone £10 a week to come and change all the duvet covers in the house. It's the cause of such discomfort for me.

I know how to look after myself otherwise. I cook when I have the time and though I might not be very creative, I can certainly follow a recipe and follow the instructions.

I'd wonder if Phil Neville has probably survived by paying someone £10 to do all these things for him. Then he just goes out and plays football to earn the money to do so."

Gareth can't ... do the food shop

Gareth Stewart (34) presents the afternoon show on Cool FM each weekday. He lives in Bangor and has twin sons Cody and Charlie (3). He says:

The one thing I really can't do is the food shop. I go in and come out with all sorts of rubbish like drinks and cleaning products but no food. I managed to do it before Christmas - I went out, spent £200, and came back with chocolate and no food. Even the last guy who delivered my online shop looked at what I ordered and told me I mustn't be hungry.

The other thing I can't do is paint the edge of the wall where it meets the ceiling or the next wall. I've bought different kinds of paint brushes, special tools off the internet and it still looks rubbish. It looks like I was drunk when I did it so I just have to phone a man to come in and fix it. I then stand over his shoulder trying to figure out how he does it.

It is quite frustrating because I can do other things like putting up shelves or curtains so this is the only thing. Most people have simple things they can't do, I reckon."

Frank can't ... use a screwdriver

Frank Mitchell (51) presents U105 Mornings with Frank Mitchell from 9am every weekday. He lives in Belfast with his wife Helena and their daughter Laura (20). He says:

Anything that involves a hammer or a screwdriver is beyond me, and any time I attempt to use either I leave a scene of devastation behind me. My father could do all of that sort of thing and I think I was always a disappointment to him because I couldn't. Now I just get a man in at great expense.

I'm not very good at making proper coffee.We have a coffee percolator that my wife and daughter gather round, but that just baffles me. My wife recently trained me how to use an iron and if you give me a kettle and a teabag, I'll make you a cup of tea better than a professional footballer!"

Niamh can't ... master a runny egg

Niamh Perry (22) came to fame by taking part in the BBC Series I’d Do Anything. Since then she has become the youngest person to play Sophie in the West End production of Mamma Mia as well as starring in Taboo, the Boy George Musical. She divides her time between London and her family home in Bangor. She says:

I've never been able to totally master a runny boiled egg, very rarely do I get it right on the first go. I also struggle with gluten-free pasta and getting it served before it goes all soggy and gross.

I'm a total perfectionist and anyone who is in my vicinity while I'm failing at something would probably rather not be there! My parents brought my sister and me up to be able to survive on our own and I'm so thankful for that. I might not get my eggs right, but I cook a mean lamb roast."

John can't ... decorate his home

John Dallat (67) is an SDLP MLA and lives in Kilrea with his wife Anne. They have three grown-up children. He says:

My big problem is home decorating - I'm a total disaster. The paint goes everywhere and the paper ends up crumpled. I wouldn't even carry a can of paint now in case I drop it. I gave up a long time ago and just get a man in now to do the work instead. 

I've been an expert in domestic chores now for over 40 years - I would be divorced if I wasn't. I'm very fond of cooking, though, and catered for the whole family on Christmas Day."

Anna can't ... reverse park her car

Anna Lo (64) is an Alliance Party MLA for South Belfast. She says:

I think someone who can't even make a cup of coffee needs telling off. In my opinion he wasn't brought up properly!

In saying that, I can't reverse park. I just don't have the confidence to do it. I was once in a high rise car park in the centre of town after I had been to an event. I went nose first into the parking space and when it came time to go home, I couldn't get out because there were so many people there. I must have sat in the car for a good 20 minutes, but no one would let me out.

I'm pretty pragmatic so I know it's something I'm not good at and I don't get annoyed with myself or risk my insurance premiums going up.

I have seen some new technology where they're developing cars that can parallel park or reverse park by themselves, so I'm keeping my eye on that."

Sandra can't ... prepare poultry

Sandra Overend (41) is the Ulster Unionist MLA for Mid-Ulster. She lives in Bellaghy with her husband Nigel and their children Courtney (13), Joshua (12)

When I was 17, I went to work at Moy Park Chicken. I spent two days and two hours pulling the entrails out of chickens and because it was quite warm there, the smell was unbelievable. I asked to be moved and when they refused, I had to leave because I couldn't bear it anymore.

Now the preparation of any kind of poultry gets left to Nigel because of that. He rears some turkeys from Christmas and he has to be the one to prepare it for Christmas Day. I just can't.

It's about the only thing I can't do so I don't get frustrated about it. I was astounded to hear what Phil Neville couldn't do - in this part of the world you just get on with things and if you don't know how to do something, you just figure it out. I do my best to make sure my children have chores to do around the house so they know how to do things in the future."

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