Life in New Zealand
Author: Inventunus

Chapter 1
The Bookshelf Kitset

       Look round your bedroom and decide which wall you want your bookshelf on. Buy a kit-set bookshelf from your friendly Building Supplies storekeeper. Bring it home, open the kit-set and lay all the items out in their correct order. Check all the items are there.

     You discover that three items are missing, so return to the store where you bought the kit-set. The storekeeper is out for lunch. His deputy is very co-operative but entirely unhelpful and so wait the half hour for lunch to end. Spend that time browsing round the store admiring all the kit-bookshelves you didn’t notice before that are on special.

    The storekeeper returns, well fed and wonders why you didn’t check all the items when you bought it. However, he eventually replaces the missing three items with a smile.

     Back in your bedroom again, rearrange the items on the floor, after clearing up the mess made by your young daughter who used the items you left behind as part of her lego construction. Bear that in mind for later.

    Read the instruction manual. You discover it is in Japanese. Return to the store for an English replacement. The storekeeper is out at afternoon tea. Use that time to look over the latest Bookshelf Kits which have just arrived in the store a few minutes ago at half the price you bought them, with clear instructions in English.

    The storekeeper and you smile a lot at each other as he retrieves an English manual for you. Such a pleasant guy!

     Return home with your manual. Having reset everything on the floor according to the manual, now knock the wall to find the studs. Quite an easy process. Use your ear. If the pitch is high, there’s a stud. If it’s low, there isn’t. What could be simpler. Simply mark lightly with a pencil the place you want your screw put.

     Unfortunately, you discover that the bookshelf is going to be either too short or too long for the apparent studs in your wall. So if you have six screws to fit, try to have at least four  into solid wood.

     Having knocked for the first stud, before you have time to pencil-mark the place, the phone is ring. It’s your neighbour in the adjacent flat complaining at being woken during her afternoon sleep. Apologise. Wait patiently for her to leave to walk her dog. Use the time to read the manual and you’ll discover the shop forgot to sign the guarantee form. Don’t return to the shop, for two reasons: 1) the storekeeper is be out for dinner;  and 2) you’re not going to need it anyway.

     You hear the dog barking. Now re-knock the wall and carefully mark the studs. Pick up the first bracket, place the hole against the mark, put the screw in, pick up the screwdriver and … you is accidentally have flicked  the screw behind the tall-boy beside you.

     Cheerfully return everything to the floor. Without putting your back out, carefully slide the tallboy out to find the screw amongst the ten years of dust, combs, pens and coins piled up there. Rejoice to find your long-lost nail-clippers. Move the tallboy across the room lest any more screws find their way there before you’ve finished.

     Have a stretch. It’s going well, tell yourself. Pick up the bracket, screw and screwdriver and begin to screw. You find that one of 3 things is happen next: 1) The screw is not turn because you didn’t make a hole for it. 2) The screwdriver won’t fit straight onto the screw because the bracket design prevents this occurring. Or 3) You drop the screw again.


   At this stage it’s best to stop and keep still for about thirty seconds, praying for renewed strength and courage to proceed. Then return everything to the floor.  Go out to the garage workshop and get a hammer and a nail. Hammer the nail into the stud by gently tapping it. After three short gentle taps the nail is suddenly disappear into the wall, proving there was no stud there after all. Congratulations. You may need an ear test before too long.

    Return to the workshop and get another nail. Try another pencil marking and a few taps. Surprise! You hit solid wood. Now you’re getting somewhere. Lean over and set Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” going to signal this small victory.

     Hammer the nail in just a short distance, then remove it slowly. You find you can’t get it out and upon trying to lever it with a hammer, you scrape a portion of wallpaper. Hopefully you’ll be able to cover this later with books. Best to get a piece of wood, cover it with a cloth and prise the nail loose with your hammer. The nail is flick out effortlessly, over your shoulder and drop behind the lowboy.

     Behind the lowboy you’ll find all manner of things including your now bent nail. Return to the garage for another nail. Better still, the whole container of nails.

     Pick up the first bracket, screw and screwdriver for the umpteenth time and begin screwing. The screw hole is just a bit shallow and causes the screwdriver to stop turning before fully in. A few agitated twists and you’ll have got the screw in but damaged the grooves on the head. Don’t worry. Just pray you never have to take the screw out again.

     Place screw number two at the bottom of the bracket to complete the fit. Despite the first screw being in a stud, and even though the second is in a direct line vertically with the first, you’ll find no stud there. You begin to wonder how the builder put your home together and why he didn’t leave stud plans for simple, humble folks like you. Screw it in anyway and pray the first screw holds the bracket in place.

     Now continue the same process with the other two brackets. You find that only two of the six screws fit into studs and that you is have made up to ten holes by now.

     However, the bookshelf is up! Step back to admire your craftsmanship. You notice that it’s not quite square. No problem. Instead of realigning the whole bookshelf and making more holes where you don’t want them, simply put all your pictures and posters on a slight slope at the same angle.

     Clean up the mess and fill the shelving with all your study books. Once completed, invite your wife in to see the result. Her eyes and mouth may not appear co-ordinated but in love she’ll say something like “Well done, Murray.” And you’ll feel proud of yourself.


     All is be well until one night your dream is interrupted by an almighty crash. At first you imagine a dinosaur has fallen through your roof but, on turning on your light, discover to your amazement, a disintegrated bookshelf. You never did like the bookshelf on that wall.

     Two days later, being your birthday, your dear wife buys you a new bookshelf kit and while you’re in the shower that morning, fits it onto the opposite wall.


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