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Smallville: Room For Manoeuvre

Treasure these words by Peter B Farrell. They were produced at his new computer workstation. Oh the trouble he had assembling it! For a start the instructions were in Chinese...

“Guess what I bought in the supermarket?” The question was a challenging one, especially so coming from my wife. Also the range of goods available from the “largest village shop in the world” was enormous. The three large flat-pack boxes were a clue but my “…garden furniture?” was way off the mark.

The computer workstation - for so it proved to be - was manufactured in China. It was recommended by the ever courteous and attentive supermarket staff, who convinced my wife (laughingly) that any home handyman could assemble it in half an hour, and at only £29.99, apparently was ”…the bargain of the month, not to be missed.”

Although not the birthday gift I was expecting it certainly made a change from the usual book/CD/sweater.

I have a fairly practical computer set-up, converted from a redundant bedroom suite - just a dressing table attached to a chest of draws and a corner cupboard. Situated in the front hall this has always worked very well as we rarely use the front porch.

My “Office” although long and narrow, has easy access to the telephone, is within shouting distance of the lounge and also affords the opportunity of accessing the junk mail as it comes through the letterbox before transferring it straight into the shredder.

“Mmm, It’s all in Chinese I’ll just have to follow the drawings.” After unpacking I had spread all the Hi-Tech components on the workshop floor: four pieces of laminated MDF, multiple screws, trays and tubular legs, two with wheels on.

Well outside the estimated time forecast by the (laughing) salesmen, I finally managed to assemble it despite the instructions being in Chinese. Cleverly designed, it swivelled, swung out on wheels and expanded into all sorts of configurations. It looked professional too with it’s gleaming laminated surfaces and storage area for peripherals.

Dismantling the PC and all the “spaghetti” proved to be a daunting task, with the leads from the computer, monitor, scanner, printer, modem and speakers to be labelled. Which plug goes into what socket required detailed coloured drawings and I decided enough was enough for one day.

Next morning I brought in the assembled workstation and aligned it in the hall.

"Sorry, it just won't fit in the hall." When swung out to accommodate the accessories it completely blocked the door to the living room. I would have to leave by the front door, scoot up the drive, through the back gate and into the kitchen just to get my other glasses or put the kettle on.

"I'll try it upstairs." It was no good. I would need to run up and down the stairs just to disconnect the telephone, unless I subscribed to Broadband, which I had vowed never to do.

"What about the lounge?" My wife obviously had not thought this through. The only place it could go to accommodate the electrical connections was adjacent to the TV and I would be competing with Sex in the City or. worse, Neighbours.

"Why don’t you try it under the stairs?” This was a better suggestion. I would be out of sight and earshot in the dining room. Unfortunately I kept banging my head on the stairs every time I reached to turn the power on or off.

The problem was finally solved when I removed the workstation into my wife’s studio, carefully displayed items of her artwork on it and stored her art books on the peripherals tray. I then reassembled the dressing table, chest of draws, and corner cupboard in the hall, reconnected the computer and with the aid of the drawings and labels was soon up and running.

Later we were in town and called in at the new Carpet Emporium. Saw just the thing in the Sale, a whitish/grey Vinyl floor covering, three metres wide. ‘Cut and Take Away, 20% Off’

"24 inches long please.” Confusing to the sales assistant who perhaps was used to carpeting cruise ships, but he complied when I explained its purpose. Cut to size and fitted on the redundant bedroom suite, it looked a treat. Almost like a Hi-Tec desk. Well it does to me.

Regarding the birthday gift, I’ll settle for dining out.

Chinese of course.

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