Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, a three-door, five-drawer solid pine wardrobe in which to store my suits and shirts and socks and stuff. It was a big beast, to be sure, but we liked the look of it, and never gave much thought to how we’d get it up the stairs and into our bedroom. And anyway, it wasn’t really our problem: the guy at the furniture warehouse said they could deliver anywhere, and we took him at his word.
In the event it took a four man lift, and a lot of colourful cursing, before my new wardrobe made it to the top of the stairs and could be coaxed into its final resting place in a corner of the bedroom. And there it remained, unmoved and unmoveable, for more than a quarter of a century. Until we decided to redecorate.
Mrs P said in no uncertain terms that the time had come: the time for a new carpet, new curtains and a decent paint job. She looked at me meaningfully: painting is my territory, though I rather wish it weren’t. I said that I agreed – and I did agree, honest! – but in order to do a decent job we first needed to move the wardrobe. And that wardrobe was, as I explained, way too big for a man of my age, with my bad back, knackered knees and history of hernias, to contemplate moving.
So there we left it for a year or two, the wardrobe-shaped elephant in the room. Until, one day about three weeks ago, Mrs P suddenly announced “I’ve had an idea!”
My heart sank. Don’t get me wrong, Mrs P’s a lovely lady (I married her, after all) but whenever she says “I’ve had an idea”, I know that my life’s about to get more complicated.
“And what idea is that?” I asked innocently, hoping fervently she’d already forgotten.
“Simple,” she replied brightly, “the bedroom desperately needs redecorating. If the only thing preventing it is that wardrobe, you’ll have to get rid of it and treat yourself to a new one.”
“Of course,” I responded in a flash, “but aren’t you forgetting something? Before we can buy a new wardrobe we’ll need to get rid of the one we’ve got now. And, as I may have mentioned previously, we can’t move the bloody thing!”
“No worries, we’ll offer it to a charity. They’ll collect the wardrobe. No problemo!“
I had to admit, her idea sounded like a good one. Charities are always on the look out for quality items of furniture that they can sell, thereby raising much-needed cash to support their good causes. The wardrobe seemed like it was worth a bit, and local charities would surely be queuing up to take it away.
* * *
And so, just 24 hours later, we’re in the local offices of a big health charity, agreeing the deal. I whip out my mobile phone, and show the lady on duty a photo of the wardrobe.
“Ooh, how lovely,” she purrs, “we’d be pleased to take it off your hands.”
“And you’ll collect, of course? It’s a wee bit heavy and awkward to manoeuvre,” I caution, with a degree of understatement that verges on the criminal.
“Our guys will do their very best,” she responds, “but they have the right to refuse if they think it’s impossible or unsafe to proceed.”
“Oh, that’s OK, I’m sure they’ll manage just fine,” I lie. She smiles, plainly convinced by my reassurances. I just wish I felt the same.
* * *
A week later, the collection crew arrives. It’s a modest outfit, just two blokes and a van. “We’re doomed!”, I mutter to Mrs P as we usher them up to the bedroom.
They inspect the wardrobe from all sides. “Big, isn’t it?” one of them says unnecessarily, his voice trembling ever so slightly.
They then check the route they must take, the impossibly tight 180 degree turn needed to get the thing out of the bedroom and on to the landing, the limited vertical clearance of the stairwell, the narrowness and steepness of the stairs.
There is much scratching of heads and furrowing of brows. Finally they agree they’ll give it a go, and manage to drag the wardrobe a short distance away from the wall, unscrew the top half from the bottom and lift it off before waving the white flag.
“Sorry,” the head honcho says “can’t be done. I don’t know how the hell anyone managed to get it up here, but it ain’t going back down.”
And then they depart, leaving our hopes in tatters and the wardrobe, now in two halves, abandoned in the middle of the bedroom floor. So Mrs P and I have no option than to spend the rest of the afternoon dismantling the thing completely, taking it apart bit by bit and dragging the wreckage downstairs to dump in the garage. Even the individual pieces take a monumental effort to move, and we are left in awe of the crew that successfully delivered this monolithic piece of furniture all those years ago.
So the good news is that, after much heartache, we now have a new, wardrobe-shaped space in the bedroom. But the bad news is that I now have absolutely no excuse not to get on with the painting. Woe is me!