My mind is quiet now. The shouting. The swearing. The hammered digits. They’re all silent now. The only sound I hear is the blood rushing through my ears like Niagara falls as I stand, mallet in hand, and stare at the carnage before me. At my feet the 9v cordless drill whirrs to itself, it’s trigger taped down with duck tape. The word Budgiefuckers had been scratched into it’s plastic housing in some rage induced font.
After the ordeal of the chest of drawers I didn’t imagine that things could get worse.
But they could.
It started innocently enough. The wardrobe was packed as flat as any other piece of furniture I’ve ever bought and, despite the instructions being numbered in such a way that each number was followed by the letters ‘st’ (as in first) regardless of the number that preceded them, it looked simple enough to erect. Bang in a few pieces of dowel, tighten a screw or 50, line up reality defying doors. Nothing I haven’t come across before.
Then it happened. Then I saw it.
It was only a little thing; a tiny, deceptively flat surface where a predrilled hole should have been, but the repercussions, oh the repercussions would reverberate through the house, down the street and into the chip shop, rattling the fish in it’s batter, the oil in the fryers.
See, I pressed on. I thought to myself, ‘I will not be beaten by an undrilled hole. I will continue with the assembly of this product and damn the wankers’, and I removed the dowel from the connecting board. If there wasn’t a dowel hole for the dowel to enter, then what was the purpose of the dowel in the connecting board? Right? I mean, the next hole down was there. That hole and its accompanying dowel could take up the strain. Except…………………………………….
…………it wasn’t in the right place. It had been drilled a centimetre too high so its dowel wouldn’t fit either.
So I gave up. Having begun the project only minutes before, I dropped my tools and retreated to the corner of the room. Drawing my knees up to my chest I wrapped an arm around them and held back the tears with a lukewarm coffee and a chocolate biscuit.
10 minutes later, my nerves steadied, hugged and reassured that if they wanted to go, no-one was going to stop them, I decided that I was going to give it another try; see if I could push through the paralysing fear of a missing dowel hole and a misaligned, wankfisted piece of drilling work.
And, for a time, things seemed to go well.
The piece drilled by Stevie Wonder and his Seeing Eye Goldfish connected better than I had expected; better than I could ever have hoped for. The next piece screwed in fine as did the following 4 parts. In fact I was feeling so damned chipper about the whole thing and had pushed the dark thoughts about the hammer, the cordless drill and the horror I could inflict on the wardrobe doors so far into the dustier recesses of the dungeon that is my mind that I didn’t see my mistake until it was too late.
Far, far too late.
The shelf, the base and the top screwed into place, I reached for the second, exterior side of the piece of furniture….and froze.
It wasn’t going to fit.
With the bedrooms in such disarray, I had had to clear myself a space for my construction project by pushing bin liners full of cuddly toys and boxes crammed full of clothes, books and dog eared porn magazines as far across the room as possible, yet the area I was working in was just big enough to fit the wardrobe.
Only it wasn’t. I had misjudged the width of my project and wasn’t able to squeeze the enormous wooden panel passed Tickle Me Elmo or the bag containing my Barley Legals 1999 – 2005s.
I don’t recall what happened next.
I remember my face getting really hot and my vision clouded over with a pinkish red fog. Then nothing.
I came to hours later sitting on the floor and leaning back against the wall, a fresh cup of coffee in one hand and a couple of bourbons in the other. In front of me was the wardrobe almost fully assembled and nary a hammer hole or door kicked into matchsticks in sight.
I’d done it. Somehow, in my furious, vimto obscured rage I had succeeded in assembling my Everest, conquered my distressed Mexican pine demons.
With renewed vigour I place my mug down, crammed both bourbons into my face and bound over to see what angry Mat had done.
He’d done a lot. almost the entire unit had been put together, even the back panel had been nailed in place, though a sensation not unlike placing my tongue on a 9v battery tingled under several nails on both hands suggesting that angry Mat wasn’t as adept at piloting a hammer as I was.
Still, everything looked in order. Even the doors opened and closed without scraping on the base and, damn him, he’d managed to get the spring-loaded door catches to actually hold the doors shut. I was impressed.
In fact, as far as I could see, all that remained was to slide the top piece into place and I was home and dry. The instructions, onto which angry Mat had scrawled ‘EAT WANKSHIT YOU FUCKING TARDMUNGLERS’ for reasons I wasn’t going to investigate, seemed easy enough. All I had to do was slide it in from the top, screw it in place and that was that. Robert, as they say, was going to be my father’s sibling.
I lifted the curved, exquisitely assembled top piece above the doors, to the place the instructions instructed me to and pushed.
Nothing happened. It didn’t budge even the tiniest bit.
I was confused. The instructions clearly illustrated that the crowning part of this unit slide in from the top, sitting just behind the panels holding the doors on. Yet, when I examined the indicated location there was no space for the panel I held in my hands to slide in. Hell, there wasn’t even enough space for a page from a 5 year old copy of Razzle to squeeze in. I know because I tried, tearing one of the most interesting articles in the whole damn magazine right down the centre along with an interesting photo of Sheila from Romford.
So, what the hell was wrong with the instructions?
Maybe they were wrong. The numbering had been typed by someone with digital tourettes, so wasn’t it also possible that the diagrams had been fucked up too?
To test my theory I conducted a closer inspection of the wardrobe and came to the conclusion that it must slide in from underneath as the shelf inside was a good 3/4 of an inch less deep than the top meaning that I could slide the final piece passed it and into place.
But I tried. It didn’t work. It wouldn’t slide up high enough, the top of the piece hit the top of the wardrobe and wouldn’t budge any further.
It just didn’t make sense. If the shelf wasn’t as deep as the top, then surely it meant…………………………..
Realisation dawned. It shouted at me from a hilltop a good 17 miles away, then accelerated down the slope towards me and smacked me in the face with all of its deductive reasoning powers.
The top and the shelf were the wrong way round.
I can’t really explain what happened next.
Not just because the memory of splinters and blood hurtling through the air and splashing against furniture turns my stomach, but also because most of the swear words I shrieked I’m not convinced I could spell without an Icelandic dictionary. I honestly didn’t know I was capable of stringing that many consonants together in a single utterance.
So, now I wait for the next piece of furniture to arrive.
Only, this time, my wife says that she’s going to put it together. She says that she won’t unlock the door until the wardrobe is up and filled with clothes.