I have discovered a completely new ailment that can only affect husbands and partners of women who live within a drive of an Ikea store.
So that’s every bloke and a hell of a lot of the women in Europe, then.
I have called this affliction Screwdriver Hand. It doesn’t yet appear on the lists of any cutting edge medical research, so I am saving the Medical Research Council several million pounds with this discovery.
The symptoms are a soreness in the centre of the palm of the right hand and stiffness in the fngers of the same hand – brought on by assembling flat-pack furniture.
There is, I am afraid, no cure, although the symptoms will disappear after several days of discomfort.
My discovery is several years overdue; after all the clues are all around me in our house. I am sitting at an Ikea table in front of Ikea shelves with an Ikea bookcase behind me and an Ikea wardrobe next to it – and that’s just in the room we use as an office.
Then there’s the brilliant names that Ikea come up with for their products. Only a Swedish firm would call a bookcase “Billy” and a plastic bag for storing Sue’s excess clothes in the loft, “Dimpa”.
Back to “Screwdriver Hand”
My remarkable discovery of this condition is really the fault of two completely innocent Danes.
We have family in Denmark and we are really excited that they are coming to stay with us at Easter. At least, I am sufficiently excited to want to tidy up a small proportion of the junk important items that I have stored around the house on a number of piles.
Sue is sufficiently excited about their visit to decide to replace our somewhat ancient bedroom furniture. It seems that they will be using our bed (the only one in our house) while we will camp out on the inflatable mattress in Sue’s ironing room.
I know that Easter is some weeks away, but we have made an uncharacteristically early start which has involved removing the old furniture – which now graces the increasingly frequently mentioned Tony’s version of our junk room storage space. We then cleaned in places that hadn’t seen a duster, let alone a vacuum cleaner, for ages and we started to assemble the contents of a number of heavy cardboard boxes that were collected from Ikea on Saturday evening.
This was when I discovered that my venerable and very rarely exercised Black and Decker electric screwdriver had a completely flat battery. So I did what any reasonable person would do, I grumbled and moaned and went to fetch the manual screwdrivers. This was the start of my self-experimentation that has led to my remarkable medical breakthrough. We started by assembling two three-drawer Malm (another great name!) chests of three drawers.
This involved about 20 or 30 screws for each (plus more than a dozen for each drawer). With these complete, we moved on to two six-drawer chests with a trendy opening lid that conceals a mirror.
I stopped counting the screws in these after the first million.
Unfortunately we still have two unopened cardboard boxes on our front room floor containing two four-drawer chests. We didn’t actually measure the space where we intended to put these, but it gradually became clear that they will not fit in our bedroom. It wasn’t all bad news because my Screwdriver Hand has had time for the pain to recede, but I know that once we have taken advantage of Ikea’s offer to return unwanted items and return home with some other variant in the Malm range of drawer units, my attack of Screwdriver Hand will be back.