Ever since I have known her, and right up to this weekend, Tigger has sat at the PC on an aluminium folding chair. And, of course, I have been sitting on it too since I moved in. It’s the sort of chair we would toss into the boot of the car (if we had a car) when we went on picnics (if we went on picnics). It consists of a metal frame with canvas seat and back, not exactly the last word in comfort for anyone who tends to sit at the computer for long periods at a time ( and we do tend to sit at the computer for long periods of time).
It was with some excitement, then, that Tigger announced that Rymans had a computer chair on special offer. For a mere £40 you got a flat-pack chair and a penny change. Bargain. Not only that but there is a branch of Rymans up the road from us at Angel, an important consideration when thinking of carrying home an object the size and weight of a chair. Friday evening, having ordered the chair some days before, we went to collect it.
You may have noticed whenever you have bought a piece of build-it-yourself furniture, that the designers of the package are a bunch of sadists who see it as their mission to make the box as hard as possible to carry. The sheer weight of the contents means that you need to get a good grip on the box just to lift it. So what do these designers from hell do? They make the box perfectly smooth: no holes for the hands or flaps to grab hold of; no handy webbing with which to fashion a temporary handle, just enough to get you home. Secondly, they make the box tall and wide: too tall and wide for you to clutch in your arms or carry in your upturned hands. Even if you managed this impossible feat, the box is so large that you wouldn’t be able to see where you were going.
Looking at this impregnable fortress of a box I spied a possible weakness: it had overlapping flaps at the top. These were sealed all around with multiple layers of sticky tape, as if the designers had foreseen my plan. A preliminary attempt at breaking the seal showed that I was likely to do more damage to my nails than to the tape. But I have lived long enough to know that in an emergency a latchkey may serve as a saw, especially a fairly new key that hasn’t been blunted with years of use. My keyring contained such a key and in a trice I had cut through the tape at either end of the flaps. I could now slip my hands inside and heft the box.
In this ungainly manner, carrying the box before me, trying not to kick it or fall over it, I made my way across the road to the bus stop, with Tigger directing me through the traffic. When the bus came I knew I couldn’t climb aboard carrying the box that way: there was nothing for it but to lift the box to my chest, aim for the door and hope for the best. Somehow I got aboard and to my relief found the luggage rack unoccupied. By now my arms were trembling from the effort but this was no time to weaken.
Arriving at our stop, I managed to blunder my way off the bus, having persuaded the driver to let me out at the front. London bus drivers are touchy about this: some will let you, some won’t; some will grumble but let you off anyway. There followed a short walk that felt like quite a long walk; then the steps up to the front door; then dragging to box along the hallway to our door; then dragging it inside. We had done it and I felt like applauding myself.
The next part of the adventure will be familiar to anyone who, like me loves to hate IKEA and all vendors of flat-pack furniture: assembling the damn thing. Buried deep within the contents of the box was an instruction sheet. Instructions consisted of four pictures labelled Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and Stage 4. Putting the thing together wasn’t as bad as I had feared. A sort of telescape slotted into the base and three plastic cups went over this as a cover. A bracket to hold the thing together had to be screwed to the seat and then the arms, the only things holding the back and the arms to the chair, were screwed on next. Turn it upside down and…voilà, a computer chair!
Hitherto, at meal times, one of us has sat on the chair and the other on the bed. I was quite looking forward to the idea of both of us sitting on chairs to eat. It wasn’t to be. With that pragmatic instinct that makes cats think any change has been carried our for their benefit alone, Freya decided that the folding chair was now hers and took immediate possession. She is curled up on it as I write.