Once upon a time, in ye olde days of that very hot summer of 2013 in Cambridge, England, a gentleman was changing his abode and set about buying furniture to suit. He was accompanied on his ventures into the local market place by his sister, hitherto known as a sensible lady.
The lady had ye bright idea that her brother should acquire a table known as a butterfly drop leaf table, within which four folded up chairs can be stored until required. The table could be kept with one leaf permanently raised so that the man could eat his meals there and the other only raised when the man did have visitors to be fed. It was described as a space saving device.
The brother thought this a good idea and so they repaired to ye olde Homebase store to purchase the table and chairs. The man being savvy in the keeping of the contents of his wallet, a Tuesday was chosen, for the man was of suitable age to receive the 10% discount given by Homebase to its silver haired customers on that day.
The table came in a form known as flat pack which required the table to be assembled from the pieces contained within the pack. This was seen as an enjoyable pastime by the lady, for verily, she did consider herself the queen of flat packs and wished to avail herself of the opportunity to add lustre to her crown.
The package was large and heavy but the store had provided wheeled means of conveying it to the trusty steed waiting outside. Once home, it was laid upon the carpet where it waited for three weeks whilst other furniture was acquired and put in place.
Finally there came the day when the table was to be assembled. But the trusty steed was making terrible noises as if it was in pain. And so the gentleman and lady took it to the place where such steeds are made better and entered the room of waiting, where owners endlessly paced, clutching their money bags, wondering how much it would cost for their steed to be made better.
It was the second such visit in two weeks as the trusty steed had previously developed a noise making it sound like a fifty year old war machine in urgent need of maintenance. It had required the fitting of an expensive component known as ‘the front end of the exhaust with attached catalytic converter’ to make it better.
As the gentleman and lady paced the room of waiting, the trusty steed was led away to have its underbelly examined. Finally, the owner of the establishment, having spoken into ye instrument known as a telephone, announced to the anxious couple that the steed required that its underbelly needed stabilising, for verily, it was about to fall out.
Expressing consternation, the couple agreed to retire to the nearby local watering hole known as ye olde supermarket Tesco to await the delivery and fitting of the engine stabiliser, for they were assured that it would all be fixed within the hour.
They purchased a suitable repast of sandwiches, crisps and fruit juice and sat outside in the sun to consume their meal. Before returning to collect their trusty steed, they purchased some cakes known as ‘lemon slices’ to assist in their endeavours when assembling the table.
Alas, the steed was not ready, for the wrong device had been delivered. The gentleman and lady decided to leave the trusty steed to be worked upon in due course and to walk to their respective homes. But what, the lady cried, of the lemon slices which were in the backpack the man did carry? The man was quite affronted, declaring that the lemon slices would be kept quite safely until such time as they did gather again for the assembling of the table.
The couple parted company with the lady not entirely assured of the ability of the gentleman to refrain from eating said cakes, for she had been acquainted with him for many years and did know of his devotion to his stomach.
And her misgivings were found to be correct, for a few days later did arrive a message by e (all the pigeons having fled the coop). The e message said:
“I finished off the lemon slices today. I did so for two reasons:
1. It is my friend’s birthday today.
2. They were an inferior brand to Mr Kipling.
By way of replacement I have bought some Mr Kipling country slices. Don’t get too excited though as these will go with me to motor racing on Sunday.
Enjoy your weekend.”
The lady was deeply hurt that her brother should put the needs of his stomach before those of his sister and insisted that he purchase more supplies on the day they reconvened to assemble the table.
Came that day and they unpacked the components of the table, carefully laying them on the carpet as per the diagrams on ye instruction parchment. There were a great many to be assembled but all were found to be present and correct.
The lady studied the parchment, for although she was the queen of flatpacks, as a lady she believed in reading ye instructions. She would then direct the operation.
With much huffing and puffing and muttering under the breath, the two side frames of the table were assembled. The lady did have a moment of misgiving whilst fitting two components for there was a hole in one which was about to be covered by the other, without anything being fitted into the hole. But she swallowed her misgivings and continued to complete the frames. With both assembled she sat back to compare the finished effort with ye diagram and found that the left side and bottom of one frame had been attached to right side and top of the other frame.
Sorely disappointed (and unable to find a reason to blame her brother for she had been the supervising one) the frames were dis-mantled and re-mantled correctly. Lo and behold, the component with the previously covered hole was now in a position to be attached to the rest of the table.
The lady’s shame in such misadventure meant that her crown slipped askew and became tarnished beyond recognition. Alas, she could no longer call herself the queen of flatpacks. Hanging her head, she left the house of her brother, unable to summon the spirit to continue the job.
But the lady was made of stern stuff and shrugged off her despair and a week later, presented herself to finish the job. And this time, all went well.
There were many holes and many screws requiring much effort but most of the table was duly assembled with only the leaves remaining to have their hinges fitted and to be attached to the body of the table. As the couple took a rest, the lady saw a splodge of bright red on ye instruction parchment which had not been there previously. Being weary in body she did not look closely at it and sat back to drink her coffee and eat her lemon slice.
As she did so, she saw liquid of the same red colour emerge from the hand of her brother, about to drop onto his lovely new plum coloured armchair. Hastily she did yell, much to his surprise. Having patched him with ye sticky tape known as elastoplast, they did discover blood on the table where he had been screwing components together.
At this point, the lady and gentleman decided that enough was enough for that day and so the almost complete table remained waiting for its leaves to be attached a week later.
But, alas and alack, the table had to wait even longer for, four days later, the lady did measure her length on the public highway. In the process she made a three point landing: two hands and a knee. The lady was sorely shaken and verily did she employ unladylike language in casting a heap of dung upon the head of the hansom cab driver who had parked on the pavement thus causing her to take avoiding action and so trip on a step.
With a graze, a bump and bruise on her knee, the lady could not kneel and so was unable to complete the assembling of the table for yet another week. Truly, this must be the longest time ever taken to assemble a drop leaf table.
The moral of this story: next time the lady has ye bright and sensible idea, especially concerning flat packs, somebody should remind her that such ideas can have unforeseen consequences best left alone.