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Personal view: The art of the post-holiday conversation




What did you do with your week off? I always find this a difficult one when coming back from holiday. There is often a certain pressure to cram days’ worth of activity into a ten second summary, while keeping a tone that sounds both wistful and freshly determined. It’s like editing a particularly eventful weekend of football for Match of the Day. But if you have done very little – and also spent seven days feeling like you’ve been running around to catch up with yourself, the question becomes much harder.

I’d originally planned to use this week to watch athletics. And a few days in, I wish I had stuck to this plan. At least then I could pigeonhole my accomplishments into the acceptable week-off categories of having ‘chilled out’ or ‘had a quiet one’. I could even claim to have had a staycation!

IKEA shelves. Easy to assemble, apparently (19533231)
IKEA shelves. Easy to assemble, apparently (19533231)

But no, I had to decide my childhood bedroom suddenly needed sorting out and that the improv bookshelves and CD racks being used to control the overflow needed to go. There’s also The Reading List I have for university. So, when I leave my house in Bury to travel back to where my parents live in Tonbridge, I already feel like I am running out of time.

On the plus side, IKEA generously decided to open their Essex store almost directly halfway between the two and I don’t need to make any diversion. The highlight of the excursion (and perhaps even the whole week) was choosing lunch – which I am unashamed to say took longer than selecting a bookcase and two CD racks. What I perhaps should have foreseen was that three times seven-foot of flatpack furniture might be a little much for my Corsa. After filling in a few forms, a delivery is arranged for ‘sometime between 12:00 and 16:00 on Friday’ (to give credit to IKEA, they did narrow down the ETA to between 13:00 and 16:00 on the day itself.) Three hard days of watching athletics and failing to finish classic novels later, the shelving arrives.

The sight of large planks of wood, nuts, blots and instructions actually slightly scares me. I chose food technology at school to avoid this type of situation. But over the course of a day’s hard work, and a fair amount of help from my more competent father, the CD racks are complete. The exciting part of this process will be ordering the albums from Ash to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but that nerdy treat is going to have to be saved until I complete the bookcase. And I write that, not in reflection, but in the present, as I somehow managed to mess up on the simplistic instructions so that the shelf’s foundations are now wonky. I left Tonbridge for Bury with the case still on the floor in need of a second visit, which must be the least appealing sequel since Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

My morale is not helped at hearing stories of how people have completed several bookcases in one day, one-handed, probably also blindfolded, while wearing oven gloves and using tweezers.

“So, what did you do with your week off?”I failed to complete IKEA furniture, any reading or even the athletics.

“It was uneventful,” I reply.


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