Some friends kindly gave us their son’s outgrown buggy/pram last Christmas. For weeks it was shoved in the corner of the hallway, in denial, in various bits. I decided to assemble it after imagining that the unborn child might like to see some outside shit only days before he was due to be in the spring.
After sorting out the basic components of the buggy, frame/wheels, base. Hood? And what was actually a car seat and nothing to do with the former parts, I got to work. An hour later and I’d managed to locate the mounting pegs for the top part and how to raise and lower the handlebars, or whatever they’re called, but that was it. I mean, it defied logic. Later that day I found myself in the park staring intently at kids’ prams in order to try and decipher the code of assemblage before concluding that checking this sort of thing on youtube carried a far lower risk of arrest. The youtube videos proved to be useless, some very suspect looking ‘dads’ from America extolling their own self-worth via the medium of how to fit a raincover as portentously as possible, was as unhelpful as it was infuriating. Eventually I realised I’d been deceived by how obvious it was from the off* and the new, complete, buggy was re-shoved in the corner of the hallway to await god-knows-what.
That had been one of a list of [hypothetical] dad-things I had to do. New room aside, I had to assemble drawers, cots, and shelves, fill gaps, drill holes, paint stuff, and secure a load of doors (cupboards and otherwise) so by the time the kid was the imaginary toddler I occasionally fretted about, he wouldn’t have access to dangerous potentials while he and his mother are in the pub.
I felt a bit weird about doing all those things. There is a very dark side of myself that feels that I’m somehow tempting fate. That aside, the hardest thing back then was the bloody wait. It was like waiting endlessly for take-off on a really shitty flight to somewhere you suspect will be quite nice.
By the way his new room -essentially, two stud walls and a door on one aspect of the lounge- is big enough to fit a double bed with a little bit of space to walk round two sides, and that’s about it. However, it’s superbly bright, airy, and has loads of space for pictures of motorbikes, skulls and Slayer. Obviously the better half had an opinion on this too, so only one wall has bikes on it (Barry Sheene, Carl Fogarty (signed, Carl and I, way back) and rather dubious ‘vintage’ metal plate featuring a café racer undertaking a fictitious run to Brighton at some haste) but I have managed to sneak in a skull/bones clock above the shelf, a bunch of heavy-metal stickers and Joey Ramone figurine illuminates when you turn the wall light on -I’m particularly chuffed with this act of progressive OCD.**
*In an age before laptops and smart phones, people were far more practical. I still don’t understand why there are so many bicycle shops these days, I mean how hard is it to change an inner tube or bolt-on a set of brake blocks -especially when, ironically, you can find out how to online. Another thing, despite a proliferation of cookery programmes, as a nation we now eat more takeaways than ever (we’ve more fast food outlets too) indicating that we’re not actually physically cooking anything at all but merely watching shit whilst eating it. My point is this, I expect things that require practical intervention to be bit complicated, a tad challenging, that’s how you learn, right? For example, I can dismantle and rebuild a 900 series MK1 carburettor for my 1976 Triumph Bonneville, the first time was arduous but I persevered and now I can do it with relative ease. I approached the assembly of the buggy in the same way, I pondered, mused, at one point going outside to smoke a pipe, but I still couldn’t figure out how the sod came together. It was only when I figuratively stepped back the penny dropped, it was, literally, deceptively simple. There is no point to this, by the way, outside of the one made in my opening sentence. I’m just explaining why I had some problems assembling a pram and providing examples as to why. As you were, then.
**Sorry, me again. People are inclined to overuse the abbreviation of ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’ these days. You’re not entitled to claim OCD just because you prefer to store baked beans on the top shelf of your cupboard and multipacks of crisps underneath. For a start, there is nothing funny about OCD, in fact, it’s bloody horrid, and I am on the periphery of the condition. For every tiny act of creativity that has resulted from my OCD, such as the Joey Ramone/lamp, there have been hundreds that have seen me up in the small hours, tired, almost in tears, because I can’t decide how I want to arrange drinking vessels on shelf. Yes, really. The worst aspect of it is that one act of OCD will inevitably lead to another. Take last night for example, all I did was move a candle from a shelf to a spot previously occupied by a recently disposed-of plant. This in turn led to the glasses episode resulting in a wasted two-hour freak-out as to how best arrange them. Initially I figured it should be aesthetic and then opted for practicality (i.e. which ones were used more frequently) which didn’t look right, so I tried to mix it up a bit and then one glass wouldn’t fit properly so I had to start over for the umpteenth time. And that’s just one example, smaller aspects of this will occur daily, some will last the whole day, some even longer, like the ones that have no conclusion offering the chance to return to the problem indefinitely. Of course, these all add up so you can have many ‘incidents’ running concurrently. Incidentally, did you know that an iphone has a spirit level? Go to the compass and scroll to the right, I found it by accident last week. It’s been making my life hell.