There was a fellow on BBC Radio 4 the other morning who was attempting to assemble a flat-pack bedside table. This was live on the air, which, as if it needs to be said, is not the most scintillating radio programming. It’s a bit like putting on your favourite song only to find it’s just William Shatner reciting the lyrics.
This esteemed correspondent had been given one hour to complete the project but after forty minutes he’d only just finished the drawer and even then, he suggested, it was in quite a flimsy state. I felt sorry for the poor man. Not only for debasing himself live over the national airwaves, but for proving his inability to achieve, what for me is, the most basic task.
At least once a month I’m asked to assemble flat-pack furniture as a part of my daily DIY docket. Of all the jobs I’m asked to do, this one pleases me the most. I find it a simpler task than most other projects – it requires no forethought, special equipment or additional materials – and I get paid the same amount of money.
A bit of history. When I was a young boy with big dreams of future Handyman eminence, I’d spend hours sitting on the floor of my room with a jigsaw puzzle spread out on a giant piece of cardboard. I recall single-mindedly searching for specific pieces that I knew would fit into the uniquely-shaped spaces on the board. I was patient, determined and, it seemed, somehow clairvoyant; indeed I could pick up a piece and know immediately, almost instinctively, exactly where that piece would slot in.
To me, flat-pack furniture is little more than a large, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle made simpler by the inclusion of the solution to the puzzle. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Really HV, how can you make heads or tails out of those cryptic pictograms disguised as instructions?’ A fair question. Admittedly some of the visual aids can confuse rather than assist. But hey, that’s part of the puzzle.
At the risk of sounding like I’m defending the retailers of this furniture – who shall remain nameless (see acronymic blog title) – I’d also like to point out that I believe they have been paying attention to customers who, over the years, have complained of pieces missing from their half-assembled television caddy. Or who, perhaps, have ended up with a completed wardrobe only to be left with an extra doohicky or thingamajig. I can’t remember the last time I’ve encountered a missing piece and I’ve assembled hundreds of pieces of furniture. Good for listening, is all I can say.
Don’t get me wrong, over recent decades they’ve dumbed down furniture like Fox news has dumbed down Americans.
But to said retailers and their reluctance to assemble their own furniture I must sincerely give them my thanks. Thank you for allowing me to strut my superiority over bumbling, inept media types and, mostly, for helping to keep me employed.