COLUMN: May 9, 2013

I HAD to assemble a goal. It is unclear why anybody thought this would end well.

I am actually a dab hand at putting together flat-pack furniture, this talent being the shining light which illuminates my many other DIY failings.

I am not afraid of an Allen key, and I could demonstrate the insertion of little dowels into bits of drilled MDF on television. There is probably a channel dedicated to that on Sky, but I wouldn’t know as I don’t have Posh Telly.

However, this goal threatened to defeat me. It potentially was six feet tall by ten feet wide. I’ve been in smaller hotel rooms. I opened the box and emptied out the parts, separating them into the correct groups, like a flat-pack veteran.

But there were quite a lot of parts. The goal had been virtually deconstructed to the atomic level. And so I turned to the scrap of paper on which were printed the assembly instructions.

I refer to these as instructions, but they were nothing of the sort. Yes, there was a diagram showing where each of the 73,000 parts was meant to go, but there was no step-by-step assembly guide explaining in which order the parts should be put together.

This would be fine if, like Marvel Girl of The X-Men, I were able to lift every part of the goal into the air and snap them together simultaneously with the power of my mind.

Unfortunately, the power of my mind can barely lift me out of a chair these days. Nor could it recall the word “chicken” on Tuesday. I don’t remember the last time I finished a Sudoku, but then it could have been yesterday as I have a very poor memory. In fact, on Tuesday, I couldn’t remember the word “chicken.”

The point is that I had assembled the left and right hand uprights, but when it came to attaching the horizontal bar things I became uncomfortably aware of my limitations.

Now, I am a shade off six feet tall. I have normal length arms for a man of my height. My knuckles do not graze the floor unless I am really bending over as I walk, and there are very few situations in which I am called upon to adopt that gait.

Consequently, it is impossible for me to attach a ten-foot crossbar to two uprights at the same time. I am not Mr Fantastic of The Fantastic Four. I cannot stretch my arms beyond their normal bounds.

And the crossbar would not slot into place correctly unless it was clipped into both uprights at the same time.

I shouldn’t have to be a Marvel super-hero to put together a goal from Argos. Yes, I know that it should have been a two-man job, but I have seen too many Laurel & Hardy films and Chucklevision episodes to know how that works out.

I would like to say that I am aware I should have accepted my inability to slot some plastic tubes together without the assistance of a structural engineer with good grace, but I did not.

I became increasingly angry and frustrated, and kicked a swing. Not even the bees would come near me, although that might have been a reputation issue.

Eventually, I constructed the frame. I was delighted, and unpacked the net.

I gazed at the net. I gazed at the instructions. I gazed at the frame. I gazed back at the instructions.

At this point, I noticed the goal was made in China. The instructions were written in China, by a Chinese person.

I find it incredibly difficult to reconcile the rigid bureaucracy of day-to-day life in an authoritarian Communist state with the laissez-faire, borderline hippy-ish, useless instructions on how to attach the net, which basically said, “Hey, man, just, y’know, put the net on. Use clips if you want. Groovy.”

An hour later, I had stretched the net over the frame, and somehow secured it in place. I stepped back to admire my handiwork. It did look a little like a child’s drawing of a goal, but it appeared sturdy and I was pleased.

I called upon the young owner of the structure to take a shot and christen the goal. He took a run up and smacked the ball in the centre.

It hit the back of the goal, bulging the net. And pulling the bar running along the ground out of its now broken joint.

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