The flip side of preventing my children spending every waking hour in front of the TV is that I have to spend every waking hour thinking of new and hearty ways of entertaining them.
The moment I detect the floppy posture, the aimless sighing and the general gravitation towards the sofa and the remote control, then is the moment to suggest yet another amazing feat of creation, construction or destruction.
The house is full of half baked projects, dreamed up on the spur of the moment – mice cages, bows and arrows, bike ramps, junk robots etc – just to keep the infernal screen at bay.
My weekends and holidays – times when paradoxically I would generally like to be catching up on some daytime viewing myself – are often spent incarcerated in our shed, knocking out yet another flight of fancy.
This project may not look like much. There are plenty of go-cart kits on the internet, and all of them will give you a vehicle far zippier than this one.
But that’s not the point. None requires a wholesome and bonding trip to the dump (Household Recycling Centre, I believe), nor a furtive rummaging through your neighbour’s skip, nor the reviving of long dead tester pots of paint.
And therein lies the joy. This model is greatly more than the sum of its parts.
Time spent finding roughly appropriate materials, experimenting with design and then generally bodging the execution brought my son and I more closely together than any number of F1 plastic kittery packs could ever do.
And the end result is without doubt much harder to steer and ultimately more dangerous to drive than its shop- bought counterpart – two important plusses, as far as he is concerned.
So, onto the construction.
It used to be universally acknowledged that a man on the point of making a go cart must first acquire of a set of pram wheels. However, even in governess-heavy Dorset, pram wheels are rarer than hens’ teeth, and we need to look instead to the other great wheeled invention of the last 50 years: the Buggy Board.
Brilliant when attached to a pushchair, infuriating to deal with when not, this item screams out for a second chance once its primary purpose has been met. Its sturdy 360 wheels are perfect go-cart material.
Next up, the suitcase trolley. Lash the two together using …er.. planks and a few screws, and you have what might charitably be described as a chassis. The only remotely technical manoeuvre here is drilling through the centre of the Buggy Board; a well-placed bolt keeps the whole thing together and (importantly) acts as a steering pivot for the front wheels.
The seat. Measure your child and decide how close to the front he needs to be, and how much he or she envisages leaning back when at the ‘controls’, then construct accordingly.
For added comfort, padding from an ex bike or car seat may be usefully requisitioned, though it’s not strictly necessary.
However, the opportunity to use a staple gun is not to be sniffed at, and may be reason enough to do it. Of all office and workshop gadgetry I know, this one can keep children happy for hours on end, and they may enjoy helping at this point.
Steering. Turning the vehicle is best achieved through the feet, though with some sort of rigging attached to the Buggy Board arms would work just as well.
Two former inner tubes wrapped around the whole look vaguely like the safety bars of real cart, but without actually providing any safety.
To complete the effect, get the paintpots out and emblazon with suitable tigers and fireballs.
Then find a hill.