I had some chores to catch up on today and the main one was to assemble the new bed we have bought for our guest room. There had been an option to pay £45 for the men who delivered it to assemble it, but that seemed a bit pricy and I mean, how hard could it be to construct a bed from some instructions?
It's like I had forgotten who I was. But I was thinking that I had built the last three beds I've bought over the last 20 years. I had forgotten that on each of those occasions Al Murray had come round to help me. And by help me I mean that Al Murray had put the beds together whilst I just held an Allan Key and watched him.
The moment we had unpacked the two boxes that the bed had come in I was massively regretting not parting with £45. There were 16 pieces of wood, 20 or so assorted screws and bolts, bits of wooden dowling (is that a word?) and some of those circular metal things that you use for strong connections. The instructions said the bed would take two people 45 minutes to make, but I knew that it would take us a lot longer and I seriously doubted we'd be able to do it at all. I have always fucked up stuff like this and looking at the instructions, oh yeah and the little pots of glue, I thought that failure was inevitable. But at least when I bought the replacement bed I would not be so stupid as to not pay the £45.
But we soldiered on and it was good to have my wife there to give a second opinion, though surely such a high-pressure task could only see us arguing and smashing broken bits of bed over each others' heads. Our first disagreement came when my wife thought the spirally metal circle things should be one way up, whereas I insisted they should be the other way up. The arrow surely had to go on the top. The ones we had didn't look like the ones in the picture so it was confusing. I tried to put them in upside down like my idiot wife thought, but they didn't fit. I put them in my way and in they slid. 1-0 to Richy in today's chapter of the lifelong competition that is marriage. But then a few minutes later with bits of dowling (is that the word?) glued up, I very nearly stuck two bits of headboard back to front. I stopped myself and so that came very close to being at least an equaliser for my wife. Had I not spotted the error I am not sure we'd have been able to rescue the project, so really I had saved a major humiliating defeat.
Yet things were progressing OK. Smithers had come into the room and seemed to be keen to help, holding on to various bits of wood as I screwed in screws, but then letting himself down by playing with the dowling (I am not sure that is what those things are called). The headboard was completed, but when we got to the other end of the bed we couldn't get the bolts to slide into the little spirally circle things. I was ready to give up and then cry, but my wife experiemented and realised we had to hammer the metal circles further into the wood. I told her that she was insane, but she was vindicated when we followed her course of action. It was a lovely equaliser. 1-1. And it was a goal that shifted the tide. Now we were no longer hoping the other one would fuck something up so that we could take the moral high ground, but actually hoping that we might complete the task and have a usable bed.
And in just under two hours I had slotted the last slat into place and the thing looked like a real bed. Though I didn't dare lie on it just in case it collapsed and I was speared by a piece of gluey dowling. I felt inordinately proud of us and like a proper man. I think it might be the first time I've assembled something without then having to unassemble it when I've realised I've put something in upside down. I was now delighted that I had built the thing myself (with my wife) rather than pay a man. I had essentially earned £22.50 an hour by doing this too. I was a God with £45 that I would otherwise not have had. My days are spent constructing towers of meaningless and intangible nonsense on my computer, so to craft something with my hands and something that would be useful for years to come, felt properly and disproportionately good. This bed might be here after I've gone. People as yet unborn might sleep in it. Later tonight as I was coming home in a taxi I looked at the buildings on route and thought that they had pretty much all be built by hands of people who are now dead. My work won't live on beyond my death, or even before it. These pretend inky smears on a computer screen are as throwaway as the boxes my bed came in. But if you've built a building there's a chance that your work will live on for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Which is something to be proud of. If you've built a bed then you've probably created something that will exist for a few decades. Words can suck things' cock.
I then put together a garden table, but to be honest that was very easy by comparison and I could probably have got something looking like a table even without the instructions. But evenso I am probably the most manly man in the world today. I would have been the most manly man ever if I hadn't been helped by my wife.
But manly men who think they can only be manly if they do stuff without women can suck my cock. In fact, no they can't, because that's clearly what they're secretly after with all their "manliness".