If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 7 April 2012

This weekend I have mostly been ...

... Barry Bucknell (Google it, youngsters), or Man At Ikea.

The 'Study' had been for several years ankle-deep, nay knee-deep, in crap, and impossible to use for any purpose other than opening the door, slinging something in, and slamming it shut again before things tumbled out. Hence the scare quotes around the name: studying of any sort was simply not possible. Since we have been on our Make Nowhere Towers Habitable crusade (am I allowed to use that word?), we have plumbed the depths of, and made liveable accommodation out of, the kitchen and living room, and this week it has been the turn of the 'Study'. All the rubbish (and 90% was indeed rubbish) has been examined, and by a process of triage either a) taken to the skip, b) put in a recycling point for the Sally Army, or c) put in the spare bedroom for further consideration. Anna is a hoarder, so there was a lot of 'c'.

Last week, we ventured up to Cardiff to visit those nice Swedish people at Ikea and purchased a set of bookcases. (The deal is, we go shopping, I don't complain, and we have Swedish Meatballs for lunch. Works for me.) The bookcases are called 'Billy', which I think is rather nice. They were delivered on Wednesday, and yesterday I spent the day putting them together. I still have all my fingers and toes, and my sanity, so it wasn't too bad an experience. I can say that I was well impressed with Ikea's stuff. The materials are of good quality, and the fixtures are neat and well-made, and altogether it is not too much of a trial to spend half a day with a few hand tools and get the things built up. I reckon it took me six hours to go from a bare room to this:

Probably two of those hours were spent getting the whole thing lined up and square, and anchored to the wall correctly. Lumpy carpet and walls that are not square in any plane made it a challenge. Also, lots of tea was drunk and breaks were taken ("need a new drill bit - probably easiest on the bike ..."), so the time taken was pretty reasonable.

A couple of things stop me giving Ikea 10/10 for quality and service. One shelf had half an inch of veneer missing, and another had a scratch on the front (visible) edge:

I am going to contact them to see if they can do anything about those, but it's hardly the end of the world and I can live with a couple of blemishes. I think that remembering how the room used to be helps with this zen-like calm.

Today has been Book Day. Or, rather this afternoon has been Book Afternoon, after this morning was Potting Compost And A Few Other Things While We Are Here Morning. This is the state of play as of knocking-off time tonight:

Looking good. We are going to run short of bookspace, I can see that coming, but all that means is another comb through the residue, being one notch more ruthless than last time.

That's beige, that carpet. I had forgotten.


  1. If you remember Barry Bucknell (and I didn't need to Google it), you'll have one of these to hand.

    Always assuming you haven't slipped and gouged your hand, as he often did....

  2. Did you hear the one about the joker who worked at the Ikea factory?

    He always put one extra bit in the box just to cause customers hours of consternation worrying about what they'd forgotten.

    1. And I'll bet I'm not the only one who has rebuilt an engine or gearbox and found a spacer/washer/whatever left over...

      The last time it happened I consulted the exploded drawing in the Haynes manual (when they actually HAD decent information) and decided that it wasn't that important anyway. It ran for years afterwards.

    2. Ha! Did that myself, with my first car (a Hillman Imp): stripped the engine down and rebuilt EXACTLY as in the diagram - to end up with a biscuit tin full of bits. It, too, ran without problems for a few months - before someone else ploughed into it and rendered it scrap.


  3. Got the "billy bookcases" but in white, was really cheap. Found two chipped a scratched shelves, phoned the Ashton store and was told bring them back we will replace. Plus was mega impressed how quick n easy it all went together.


  4. Barry Bucknell, now there is a name I hadn't thought of for a very long time...

    Glad you got it all to go together. We put up shelves when we moved in to avoid the "Booklanches" we had in the old place. Now the plaster has cracked in the room due to the weight of the books!

    I have had mixed experiences with IKEA my worst one was the saga of the bolts with no thread. Very long queue of people with little bags of metal rods with allen key heads, must have been a huge bad batch, and no one had noticed.

  5. Great job getting the bookshelves together and installed.

    We have continually been impressed with Ikea quality. We have two bedroom dressers and nightstands, a secretary desk, television stand, bookcase, and if that wasn't enough all of our kitchen cabinets and counter tops are Ikea. After putting all those together they are easy now.

    Out of all that we've never had one piece with a scratch in it and only one nightstand was short one wooden dowel.

  6. You know, if you got a Kindle, all the books in that bookshelf would fit on one, don't you? ;)

  7. Julia, I have a Kindle. But books are books. I can see myself buying a lot fewer now (I think the Kindle is brilliant), but there's a randomness to books which Kindles can't do. Would I ever have bought 'Remarkable Names of Real People' (containing people like Siddhartha Greenblatt and Mustafa Fuk) on Kindle? I doubt it.

    Dave - it's many years since I have seen one of those. Excellent if used correctly, but, as you say ... lethal if not.

    Good to hear that other people are pleased with Ikea. The nearest store is Cardiff, about 100 miles away, otherwise I would be buying a lot more there. Some of their kitchen stuff is superb.

  8. I love the sight of a wall covered in books on shelves. It is a singular joy which, Julia, a Kindle could never re-create.

  9. IKEA meetballs are of course second to none especially at the very reasonable prices charged.

    I did BILLY's 10 years ago and have now moved on to DIODER.

    Happy Smorgasbord, N

  10. Patently - agreed, although the particular and specific joy for me is the straightness of the horizontal lines involved. What I had before was 12mm Contiboard, and after 15+ years it was sagging like an old lady's bloomers. It had become a safety hazard. This one looks trim and purposeful, and FFS I can actually see what books I own. There's some I thought I had lent and lost years ago. I now have another massive pile by the bedside waiting to be re-read. And so it goes.

    Nikos - I first had these meatball things when I had some Danish friends staying 3-4 years ago. When I discovered them in IKEA it was like a revelation. Very nice to eat, and silly prices. Good thing I don't live nearby. Must check out Dioder.

  11. "This weekend I have mostly been ...
    ... Barry Bucknell

    I spent the first ten seconds trying, unsuccessfully, to work out what "Barry Bucknell" was rhyming slang for.

  12. LOL. I expect Bucknell is like 'orange' and 'silver' - no known rhymes in the English language. Although it has possibilities if you are prepared to be tolerant over the second syllable.

    Just Googled him and found out he designed the Mirror dinghy. Clever chap.


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