7pm on a Sunday night in lockdown. You’d think I’d have gotten away with having a nice quiet day. Do a bit of tax. Have a walk in the park. I probably would have written wryly about the sheer number of people in the park today. It was like being on the tube in rush hour, I would have said, and carried on in that vein for a bit. Maybe observed something pretty about the world. Ended with some trite bon mot…
I was lying on my back, reading. The phone rang. I could’ve said “no”, but it’s against my rules.
My friend was standing on the street in Camden by two sofas that had been rejected from a large property there. The owners couldn’t get them up the stairs. “Please take these,” said the sign.
“Can you help me move them?”
They didn’t fit into a big house in Camden. That should have been a warning. My friend lives on the twelfth floor.
One zipvan and by ten to eight I’m loading them in to the back of it. This part is familiar to me at least. A short hop and they’re on the pavement in front of her block.
One of them fits in the lift.
The other one…
Last Christmas I badly hurt my back getting an oven down four flights with my nephew. I’m not making the same mistake again. But at 8.30pm I was looking at a sofa that was too big to go in a lift, and twelve long flights of stairs up. There was another guy with me. We both just got on with it. I had to get the van back as it was on the clock.
Up we go. Every two flights we definitely have to stop to get our breath back. And we aren’t that unfit. It’s arduous work. It’s really not what I expected after my lovely lazy Sunday. “I’ve got no strength left,” he says at floor eight. At ten we drop it. Not too badly thankfully. But our fingers are as worn as our backs. It’s clear now why the big lads from Team Know-How will do anything in their power to avoid having to do the job they’ve been paid for. By the time we get to twelve floors up we are absolutely knackered.
And it didn’t fit onto the landing from the stairwell. We couldn’t get it into the flat. It was literally impossible.
So we stood there, at about 9.20pm, looking at this monster, wondering.
“Have you got a sledgehammer,” I venture. “We could just smash it and put it in the lift back down. There’s no way I’m carrying it down again.”
No sledgehammer. But a knife and a selection of saws.
It was nicely put together once. A good timber frame and tight suspension of the materials. We slowly backward engineer it until the back is loose.
The bit we destroyed will eventually be against the wall, we reasoned. With the back off it just got round. We got it into the flat, into the right place. By this time I’d extended the van three times and had to go and return it.
My friend now has an old sofa that needs to be taken apart and disposed of. She has a newer sofa that needs to be reconstructed and cleaned. I’ve told her I’ll come over and help again next week if I can. But it’s not easy, working in a mask. And it’s not essential work either so naughty naughty. I literally keep forgetting lockdown in the heat of the moment. It’s weird. Last lockdown I barely left the house. This one I’m transport Captain. At least the stairwell was less crowded than Battersea Park. It was like the Black Hole of Calcutta in there.
My body is wishing I’d just sat at home. I’m running a bath. Ow.