The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Nov 11, 2007


What a weekend. The clan has been down with a rather severe attack of a rhinovirus. The boy is extra whiny and clingy, the wife is extra snappy, and I'm extra exhausted and furious. Pourquoi? Well, I have spent the last couple of days assembling an IKEA wardrobe with sliding doors. Each bloody part weighed more than me. I have pulled muscles I only know the medical names for. I have been cursing the day I agreed that I would set up the furniture. Thoroughly, consistently and without surcease. The boy has a brand new vocabulary that I did not expect him to learn for several years yet.

IKEA and I have a long history - at least ten years. In my dissipated youth, before the wife agreed to marry me, I led a life of Spartan austerity. Surrounded by books on the carpeted floor, a Bose boombox by my head, I would lie in my sleeping bag, survey the apartment and feel smug. This state of affairs didn't last as long as I would have liked; the wife insisted that we live like normal couples, even if initially like graduate students in a dorm. And so began the onslaught of DIY furniture in my life that has lasted to this day.

I absolute loathe DIY. Painting our Claremont Square flat was torture enough. Assembling a nonstop sequence of chests of drawers, book-shelves, dining tables, chairs, sofas, futons and beds has calloused my knees, strained my shoulder blades, pulled the skin off my face and decreased my life span by at least two years a pop.

You can probably tell I'm not very good at it. Unfortunately, my innate resistance to self-assembly invariably loses the battle against my inherent thriftiness. Okay, okay, you might as well hear it from me - I am more kanjoos than whatsit. There are various outfits that will, for a tidy consideration, assemble furniture for the inept or the lazy. Comme moi, as the French might say it. But will I shell out twenty-five quid per item when the item is worth about the same? Périt la pensée, madame!

Meanwhile, if like me, you end up doing it all yourself, here are some hard-earned and useful tips that may help easing some of the pain:

1. Do not start off your marriage feeling macho whenever your wife coos at your manly talents of construction and haulage. No matter how sincere the coos, you will pay for them with blood, toil, tears and sweat. Hubris is never far away.

2. Once you assemble a POÄNG chair, do not - ever - allow the wife to get rid of it. Its comfort, once lost, is never coming back.

3. Do not assemble anything if you have a child at home, particularly if at the moment he is snotty and rubbing mucus on any available surface, pointing out the ensuing mess and squealing disgusting, the latest word he has learnt.

4. Don't even think of assembling furniture in the nude. It's not just that the family jewels might lose something of their value (or function). IKEA very often supplies parts that need to be stuck on to the carcasses. The adhesive tends to be, how do I put it, groping. While the cops may not take kindly to a complaint of having been molested by glue, you really do not want your visitors to be greeted by the sight of various body hairs peeping out from various joints, hinges, or - and the mind still reels - from the mirror of the dressing table.

Anyway, with the wife's support, I have finished the wardrobe. I lost screws, dropped the hammer on the fibreboard carcass, misplaced the screwdriver, scratched our newly painted walls, and tarnished our recently-laid wenge blackwood floor. Despite following the graphical illustrations of assembly like a scout, I managed to mess up the left and right doors. Then the electric screwdriver discharged. The boy wanted to be put on the potty, and while he strained with vim, expected songs about wheels on a bus going round-and-round. Every time I got off my haunches, I'd need to sit down for a moment and consider my navel. After a while, the blood rush got a bit wearying. Meanwhile, the wife informed me cheerily that were I to fast once or twice a month, I'd cut my risk of heart failure by umpteen percent. Before I could say Ramadan, she had polished off the last of the delectable pasta she had made for lunch.

Oh well, at least she left me a cube of dark chocolate.


Anonymous said...

LOL, Await Handyman updates.

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