Yesterday we built the wardrobe. That’s a picture of it on the left. Not a very good picture, I admit, but as there is so little space in our flat (think one-man submarine) and I had to stand on the bed and point the camera downwards, what do you expect?
We are of course talking about cheap furniture, the sort that comes in a flat-pack and that you have to assemble yourself. For some time now, the wardrobe has been standing on its end in its cardboard box glowering at us, rather like the mummy case in a horror film that you know will eventually disgorge some undead monster to ravage the world. Yesterday, we decided its time had come.
First, we had to clear a space which, in our flat, isn’t easy. We moved the bed and the clothes rack into the front room, heaped various bags and cases into the bath and moved sundry crates and boxes to wherever they would go. This, it turned out, left a space just large enough to assemble the wardrobe. It’s a good job it wasn’t a boat as we’d never have got it out of the house.
Tigger consulted the list of parts and heaped all the bits into heaps according to their kind. Then we took two deep breaths (one each) and set to work. Tigger had prevailed upon me to buy an electric screwdriver and I have to say that it eased the task immensely. We started at 2 pm and ended at 5:15, not bad going, I think.
There were problems, of course. Firstly, it wasn’t clear from the instruction book which latches to use for the main part of the wardrobe so, naturally, I used the wrong ones. When we discovered the mistake, I had to remove the wrong ones and replace them with the right ones, being careful that the wardrobe didn’t fall apart while I was doing it.
Then there were the pre-drilled holes. You would think that these would be in the right place, wouldn’t you? Well, some of them are. OK, let’s be fair, most of them are, but a few are not. They are not in completely the wrong place – that would be too easy. No, they are about a millimeter out, too close to the position to drill a new hole but far enough away so that the screw goes in crooked and pulls the hinge, or whatever it is, out of true.
But finally, somehow, we were on the home straight. We carefully lifted the wardrobe upright and attached the doors and slotted in the drawers. To our amazement, they fitted. The doors even open and close. Amazing.
Rejoicing was cut short by the realization that all the stuff we had moved out to make a space now had to be moved back again. It couldn’t go back exactly where it had been before because, of course, there was now a wardrobe in the way! Somehow we managed and then had a lie-down to rest.
In the morning, we had been for breakfast to our friends at Pane Vino in Chapel Market. We were now beginning to feel a little hungry. Where should we go for supper?
We decided to go here, to Al Parco, because we hadn’t been there for a while and remembered it as a pleasant little place with a family atmosphere. Unfortunately, we had counted without the crowds typical of a hot sunny day.
The place was packed and, quite frankly, Al Parco is not geared up to dealing with the number of tables it now has. For one thing, there are inadequate toilets and for the first time in my life, I had to queue to go to the gents. We waited for what seemed hours to be served.
The food was good, though. We started with insalata tricolore, which was delicious and continued with pizza quattro formaggi, which was crisp and succulent, respectively, in all the right places. We will remember in future only to go there in winter.
The bus stop where we would catch the trusty 214 home is just opposite the restaurant but there was such a crowd there – revellers from the restaurants and picnickers from the Heath – that we knew there would be a bun fight to get aboard. We thought to get the drop on them by walking up Highgate West Hill to the previous bus stop.
It is in a quiet residential area and there would be few people at the stop. As we stood there in the darkness, staring across at the houses, I realized the one opposite had a blue plaque on it. Closer inspection showed that the poet John Betjeman had lived in this house in his childhood. A nice note on which to end the evening.