I was ‘doodling’ the Internet the other evening, or is it ‘browsing’ you call it? Anyway, somewhere between ‘Big Russian lady seeks hardy Westmeath man’ and ‘One tablet a day guaranteed to restore your sense of humour’, I came across three little words that excited me more than a dance with Joanne Cantwell. The three words in question were in bold lettering on the side of a box containing a gadget that is for sale online.

The gadget itself is a ‘tennis server’. You set up the machine at one end of the tennis court and throw a bucket of balls into it. The solo player returns to the other end to ‘receive serve’. A red button on a wrist strap is pressed and low and behold, the serve arrives across the net at ‘novice’, improver’, or ‘pro’ standard – depending on your level of expertise and the setting on the machine. Mrs Youcantbeserious almost had to tie me down to stop me ordering this tennis machine – solely on account of the three words.

At this point you need to know that I do not have access to a tennis court: In fact, I do not own a tennis racket and the only tennis ball around here is a burst one left by a neighbour’s dog two years ago. Worse still, I have never played a game of tennis in my life.

You are entitled to question what in the name of God I would be doing with a ‘tennis ball server’, given my beggary of all things tennis. It’s all down to those three words on the box that are music to my ears, my friends.  The three word are. ‘COMES FULLY ASSEMBLED!’

‘Comes Fully Assembled’ … that is all I need to see on any box and I’ll buy it. I don’t care what it is or what is in the box.

The bane of my life are the three opposite words which appear on many boxes coming into Casa Comaskey. Even writing them down now sets off a bit of a panic attack – so let us get it over with: ‘EASY TO ASSEMBLE!!’

‘Easy to assemble’ has to be the biggest lie in the history of merchandising. This lie is often followed by the second biggest lie in merchandising history, ‘ASSEMBLY TIME APPROXIMATILY 30 MINUTES’. (Breathe  deeply .. Bernie … breathe deeply …)

It might only take 30 minutes to reassemble by the guy who made the thing in the first place – and he can understand the instructions – because he knows how the bleedin’ thing works, but what about poor unfortunate ‘scruts’ like me?

I admit that there are some semi-ordinary people out there who can empty a huge cardboard box onto the centre of the kitchen floor and proceed to turn it into whatever it was meant to be turned into. I am not one of those people.

As soon as I see the mini mountain of timber pieces, steel plates, plastic knobs, see-through bags of nuts, bolts, screws and washers on the floor … God forgive me … but all I have to do is glance at it for the fit of cursing and swearing to start. Mrs Youcantbeserious stands there – trying to be helpful and suggesting that I ‘read the instruction book.’ The instruction book is the size of a GAA Annual and this only changes the cursing to a higher pitched tone.

There are loose pages with diagrams and the letters A, B, C, D, E and F. Arrows and broken lines direct ‘B’ towards ‘E’ – but I can’t figure out which end of ‘B’ goes into ‘E’ … and then isn’t ‘A’ meant to support ‘C’, on top of the piece joining ‘B’ and ‘E’? Why in the name of all things holy, are the nuts not all the same size? How many different spanners is an ordinary man supposed to own?

Those smug handymen (and worse than that …women!) who are equipped with that inbuilt smart gene enabling  the assembly of all these ‘yokes’ – rub it in by bragging of how much more you appreciate furniture that you have assembled yourself! Personally, I would prefer to sleep on a bag of straw than attempt to make a real bed out of a pile of planks and metal scraps from a box.

I have never gone to Ikea and I never shall – unless they change their attitude and put ‘Comes Fully Assembled’ on the box. But I have heard so much talk about Ikea, that when I am driving along the M50 and see the sign I start to snarl like a teased terrier.

Back to my assorted pile on the middle of the kitchen floor – and the fit of cursing which shows no sign of abating.  My long-suffering wife gives me that ‘this-is not-the-sort-of-a-man-I-thought-I-was-marrying look and asks if she can do anything. My final words are always the same … ‘Ring Martin Healy!’

Don’t Forget

It is extremely embarrassing to come to your senses and find out that you haven’t any.