Whenever new students turn up for their first guitar lesson, they'll invariably say two things: one, that their Uncle Paco/Dave gave them his old six-string that he found in the loft and they're not sure if it's good enough quality to learn on (it isn't) and, two, that they tried to learn how to play from YouTube videos but got nowhere.
This is mainly because online instructional videos don't make you feel embarrassed that you haven't practised for fifteen minutes a day as promised, whereas a well-delivered derisory tut from a real-life teacher can steep the student in a sea of shame guaranteed to make him pull his socks up so sharply that he gets friction burns on his shins.
Practical videos, on the other hand, are a different matter entirely, since they involve neither contemptuous tutting nor lashings of shame. A bloke with an implausible beard called Chuck simply tells you how to fix the dryer/cistern/boiler as he plucks an astonishing range of tools you've never seen before in your life from the ether, brandishing them with all the dexterity of a latter day Samurai warrior. "I can do that," you think heroically as you waddle off to the local hardware store to buy an Acme beveller and a few cans of WD40, determined this time not to use the word "thingamajig" or say "According to Chuck," at any point during the conversation with the assistant.
Personally, I've had mixed results with these videos, successfully managing to repair a washing machine door, a toilet cistern and, astonishingly, a computer keyboard having watched how to do so online. We won't mention the kitchen door replacement, the broken window or the light fitting, all of which finished in the upper echelons of the European league table of all-time DIY disasters.
Currently, I need to do two jobs which, on the face of it, will only end in tears if I try to do them myself - the refurbishment of some beautiful old Andalusian floor tiles and the restoration of a few wooden window frames. If ever there were two tasks that screamed "Get a professional in!" these are the ones. But no, deftly combining a heady mix of male ego and downright stupidity, I've resolved to go it alone. This will require hours of video-viewing, lots of time spent buying the wrong tools and then lots more time spent going back to buy the right tools, plus the breaking of things that are never broken on YouTube including, quite possibly, a mixed range of my own fingers. And yet, in spite of all of these certainties, I'm determined to forge ahead. It's madness.
Maybe I'll grow a beard - that should help.