Richard Herring is creating a legacy he can lie on
Wednesday 21 May 2014 We’d bought a bed for the guest room. I could have paid an extra £45 for the delivery people to assemble it for me but that seemed excessive. How hard could it be to construct a flat-pack bed?
It’s like I had forgotten who I was. Some people have two left feet. I have two left hands. And they’re made of jelly. Like that oddly limp, ungrasping hand that Rod Hull somehow used to hold Emu.
What I am saying is I am not very practical. My mind works in the two dimensions but try to add a third and it is bamboozled. Fine for writing but not for making. I have never constructed self-assembly furniture without getting an important piece upside down and back to front.
I thought I was fine. I’ve built three flat-pack beds in the past. But too late I remembered that my friend Al had helped me with all of those. And when I say ‘helped’, I mean he built the beds while I held an Allen key and watched.
As I emptied the contents of the two boxes out on to the carpet, my heart sank. There were more than 20 bits of wood, numerous screws and some spiralling circles of metal I don’t even know the name of. So I am going to call them Metal Mickey’s Polo Mints (MMPMs) and hope that catches on.
Worryingly, there was also a pot of glue. Which seemed to suggest I was going to have to make some irreversible decisions.
The instructions claimed the bed would take two people 45 minutes to make. I laughed out loud at the stupid piece of paper. At this point, I would happily have given someone £200 to put this bed together. Furniture firms are missing a trick. Stick a phone number in the box. You’ll be coining it in.
At least I had my wife there to offer an opinion on every decision.But collaborating on such a high-pressure task could surely only end in an argument and us smashing broken bits of bed over each other’s heads.
Our first disagreement was immediate. My wife thought the MMPMs (as the pros call them) should be a different way up than I was putting them. They looked nothing like the MMPMs in the picture on the sheet, so it was hard to tell. I tried to put them in my wife’s way but they didn’t fit. I tuned them over and in they slid. Vindicated! And 1-0 to me in today’s chapter of the lifelong competition that is marriage.
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 MMPMs. I was ready to give up and then cry but my wife picked up a hammer and whacked them. I told her she was insane but now everything slotted into place. What a lovely equaliser.
Suddenly, we were no longer willing the other one to screw something up so that we could win this grudge match, but hoping we’d succeed together and construct a usable bed.
Together we were victorious. Two short hours later, I slotted the last slat into place. I felt a surge of pride. I had helped craft a practical object that might still be slept on when I have shuffled off this mortal MMPM. I was a real man and not a useless scatological wordsmith.
Obviously my collected Metro columns will one day serve as a new Bible for humanity but that bed will be my true legacy.