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Summer? I need to sit down
With a heart that leaps at the prospect of the beckoning summer, I sit cross-legged in the garden, surrounded by several lengths of green tubular metal and a small cloth bag of bolts, nuts and other fittings.
We have acquired a swing chair, and the long, lazy days ahead are going to involve gently rocking back and forth in the shade, a jug of ice-cold Pimms to hand, a bee lazily charting a meandering course around the garden, the scent of barbecue coals drifting over from a nearby garden, the buzz of a lawnmower, some mellow tunes on the iPod and a thumping good book to read.
It is already eight o’clock at night as I begin transforming the various parts into the swing chair pictured on the front of the box. Still, how hard can it be? I study the single sheet of instructions. There are no words in English, indeed in any language. There are diagrams.
I have never been very good with diagrams.
The different poles and screws are all numbered on the piece of paper, with a key on the back. Unfortunately, they all look identical. I tentatively screw two pieces of green tubing together, and quickly discover that I have used the wrong screws and have to take them apart again.
Fortunately I have two helpers in the shape of the children.
“Don’t stand in the box where all the nuts and bolts are,” I say. I am accused of shouting and the boy stomps inside. The girl proceeds to helpfully put all the different lengths of bolts into separate piles.
“There’s only one of these,” she says. I look at the diagram. There should be two. “Have you lost one?”
I am apparently shouting again and my other helper goes indoors. The light is now failing and the tubular green skeleton is looking less like a swing chair than some kind of modern sculpture. I wonder if I can get an Arts Council grant for it and use it to pay someone to finish making the thing.
My wife comes out to bring me a glass of wine and to find out if she can have the inaugural sit-down on the swing seat. My mouth is full of bolts so I can’t thank her properly, nor tell her that it is some way from being sat upon. The children come back out to help me with instructions that I have not to shout, then promptly sit in the box where the remaining nuts and bolts are.
Apparently, I shout again.
Some time later, as I squint at the diagram in the near-darkness, my wife comes back out to drink the wine that I have left untouched. The thing is almost looking like a swing seat now. I finish off the final bits, put the seat cover and canopy on, then we all have a sit down.
It is time for bed. My wife tells me it looks like rain. So I go out and bring in the seat cover and the canopy.
Still, summer was nice while it lasted.