Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stalag Luft Morag

Most of the day has been spent wrestling with the idiot instructions for the lumber yard of roughly sawn timber, and the sack of assorted screws and bolts that Mike and Morag bought under the impression it was a kid's adventure play thingie. It's one of those huge wooden two towers, a shooglie bridge between them, slide, swings and climbing rope affairs.

The job was supposed to have been done today (how long can building something that looks like a small POW camp take? The people who sold it to them said 'two blokes should get it up in six to eight hours'. The instructions (hah!), when we eventually found them in all the tons of shrink-wrapped timber, said ten to twelve hours - but whether that included the concrete, which we had been assured we wouldn't need - we're not sure. With the dedication and determination that only two Fathers presented with a large toy that needs assembling for their eager and expectant kids, Mike and I spent a happy two hours counting all the bits of wood and stacking them in neat piles, counting all the screws nuts, bolts, and washers and separating them into easy find little pile-ettes of their own, having several cups of coffee and sits down (sit downs?) while we worked out the 'best way to tackle things'...

Then we went for lunch.

After that masterful piece of avoidance (oh we're good!) there was no getting round it, we would have to enter the seventh layer of hell that was 'The Instructions'. Now, I'm pretty good with instruction books, they aren't my choice of bedside reading but I have ploughed through a few in my time, working out how to assemble stuff, or take it to bits and fix it and then put it back together again. Though I may joke about it: "When all else fails, RTFM!", I do usually look at plans before I start a job. What I don't usually end up doing is making wax effigies of the writers* and sticking three different sorts of wrong sized pins into the buggers which is what I am so tempted to do for whoever is responsible for the bits of A4 incoherence I have been wrestling with all day.

Okay, my mood wasn't enhanced by the fact that we were building something designed to be built on firm, flat ground on a swampy slope (I know, I would have thought it was impossible too, but Mike and Morag have a sloping swamp in their back garden - a sloping swamp moreover, with an insanely dense midge population) but you would have thought the writers would have put the size of the damn thing in there somewhere. How much space did we need? We didn't know and could only find out by laying the whole thing out. Measurements were inconsistently given to different edges for no apparent reason, bits of wood were not the same size as the instructions would have us believe, and as a master stoke were bizarrely Labled A,B,C,D,D1,E,F... it took us ages to spot that '1' on the page. Life got an awful lot easier when we realised that two components were, pointlessly, labelled almost identically - but why two Ds? Why??? It's not as if they got up to Z with all the components. They had a whole slew of other letters to choose from. Over half the alphabet. Grrrr!

I want a job. I want companies to send me stuff for free without the instruction manuals and I will build these things (whatever they are) in my workshop, or out in the garden and I'll write the manual for them as I go. The company will get a manual NOT written by someone who already knows how to do it with their eyes shut and the technical names for everything and which says things like "Ease the Trunion Gussets" or whatever. They get a manual that says "Hit the flat bit with a big hammer", the sort of language that bad tempered people, kneeling on boggy hillsides can understand - and I'll get to keep the stuff.

*(Insert pin A into groin of effigy E whilst holding locking nut F against both the upper trunion flanges...)


Phoebe J. Southwood said...

Wow. Painfully experienced. Masterfully written. I'm sad for your aggrivation and glad for it because it makes such a funny story.

Or as my family used to say, you'd look good in a potato sack.

Phoebe J. Southwood said...

Or something.

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

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