When all else fails – read the instructions

I’VE bought a new bed.

One day soon I hope to sleep in it. Meanwhile I am on the sofa, it’s 3am, and I am writing this as a warning to others.

Why aren’t I in the bedroom? Because the bloody bed is in the bedroom. In pieces. There are more bits to this bed than there are bones in a kipper, and they are strewn across the bedroom floor, streaked with blood and hair and bits of skin.

This is what comes of trusting experts.

Actually, maybe not. I have assumed that people who make flat-pack furniture employ experts to design it, but that’s clearly nonsense. Not experts in flat-packed furniture design, anyway. It’s entirely possible they have degrees in zoology or homeopathic medicine, but they know as much about flat-pack furniture as a jellyfish.

Some basic knowledge of human psychology would help. Don’t they know that people don’t read instructions? It’s a well-known fact. The instructions are only there to protect the manufacturers from prosecution later.

“Yes, Mr Pearce, we know you were so frustrated by the impossible task of actually constructing this bed that you attacked it with an axe, but did you read the instructions?”

No, you idiot. I thought it would be simple!

This is the first mistake. Simplicity does not come cheap. A simple bed is one that has been constructed by craftsmen, with wooden joints and glue, and is delivered to your home by people with white removalists’ aprons and years of experience who nudge it gently through doorways and round complicated hallway corners without so much as rocking a picture frame.

With a flat-pack you don’t need the truck or the removalists. You just need a station wagon. You’ll rip the upholstery, of course, trying to slide the box in, but think of the money you’re saving – even if you subtract the cost of the physiotherapist you need for your back, because even a flat-packed bed is a big, awkward shape that no sensible bed-shop assistant would consider lifting alone. That’s why they bung it in a box and get you to do it.

Then there’s the torn finger nails, the gouged skin, and the crushed fingers that are all part of the joy of putting it together.

And forget the picture of the bloke with the screwdriver. You’ll need a hammer, probably an electric drill, possibly a saw, finally an axe.

The instructions will come in handy later, when you want to burn the bits.

I have a theory that flat-packed furniture is not designed at all, and that the instructions are actually copied from the pages of a manual on orange-box construction.

Think about it. It’s genius really. You randomly select a few pieces of veneered chipboard, throw in a couple of bits of angle-iron, a few screws and bolts, an allen key, and a set of instructions printed (and translated) in China, and you bung it all in a slim, but otherwise very big, box.

Then you sell it to someone, who takes it home, and tries to fit it all together. By 3am, naturally, they have lost half the screws down the sofa, an eye on the angle iron, and their temper on the dog.

The long plank that looks like some kind of central support has snapped and the steel bracket has pulled out of the veneered chipboard, leaving an ugly hole.

When you take it back they’ll say: “Did you read the instructions?” and “Oh dear, it looks as if you tried to force it.”

Then they’ll direct you to the Chinese instructions, where it states, in very small print: Apprication of force voids wallanty.

Never mind; I still have the box. With a house brick under each corner, it’ll probably be quite comfortable.