Hand-Hammering Whacky-Whacky

This week I committed the book-loving equivalent of ‘I can’t. I’m washing my hair’ by switching off my phone for a day or two and spending Friday night and Saturday buying, carting, unpacking, and assembling a giant bookcase.


I’d waited some three months for it, as Ikea was, for some reason, having trouble sourcing the bookcases from Sweden or wherever they’re manufactured (and it’s probably best I don’t think about where, because it’s probably some poor, third-world nation). Then I’d waited some more as the eight—just eight!—they got in the initial shipment were snapped up before you could say ‘flat pack’.

I finally scammed my father to drive down to the giant warehouse that is Ikea (seriously, I’m wondering if that building would be visible from space) and load the 100-ish kilograms of flat-packed bits that would, if we managed to follow the word-less instruction booklet, make up my much sought-after, much-needed bookcase. I say much needed, in particular, because my pantry is filled rather awkwardly not with food but books.


I was patting myself on the back for being smart about taking my dad, having learnt my lesson that Ikea staff will not help you even when it’s quite apparent that you’re on your own and you’re struggling. Particularly when you might have grounds for an OHS-style lawsuit because you’ve had to single-handedly had to lift and cart the frame, slats, and mattress for your new, queen-sized bed.


That didn’t mean we were immune to some Ikea ridiculousness, however, including getting lost and disoriented in the store while attempting to execute a savvy ‘shortcut’, battling a trolley with wayward wheels, and then almost getting run over by said wayward trolley when I tripped over my handbag (which I’d placed on the ground while concentrating on steadying the trolley-load of stuff). Note to self: never stand downhill from the fully laden trolley.

In truth, the fun and games had only just begun. Cue no fewer than three people to assemble the bookcase. Admittedly, our efforts were hampered by the lack of a rubber hammer or a small-enough electric drill bit, which resulted in a lot of hand-hammering whacky-whacky and some excruciating labour-intensive Allen Key efforts.


Throw in a dog whose favourite game is to hide the ball in hard-to-reach places and then dance around barking excitedly and generally getting under your feet—the in-progress bookcase proved an irresistible feat. Add in some poor spatial awareness while concentrating on where to stick those accursed little wooden pegs, which saw me quite literally head-butt the oh-so-solid wall (post-headbutt head holding pictured) … and, well, you can imagine what the scenes were like when we tried to put this thing together.

There was also an awkward moment when my mother encouraged my to put a book on the freshly assembled case and the book she handed me was Spirit Bound, from Richelle Mead‘s Vampire Academy series. It’s a great, fabulous, you-should-totally-read-it book, but it has the most cringe-worthy cover ever–kind of like a teenage, vampire Mills and Boon.


In spite of those headache-riddled challenges, the fact that Ikea instructions are pretty shabby, and the fact that we ended up with a bag of suspiciously left-over bits, the bookcase is now assembled, relatively straight, and upstanding. Some of the books are now out of my cupboards and there’s a whopping big space in the middle for where I could put a TV if I had one.

Methinks I’d rather fill that space and the rest of the bookcase with books. I’m off to spend my Boomerang Books voucher …

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.