Fordyce Maxwell: ‘Rules of furniture moving’

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IN MY time I’ve heaved a lot of furniture around. As well as full house moves, highlights include moving flats with all worldly goods jammed in a Morris Traveller, a piano in and out of a livestock lorry, and a sideboard lifted in through the window of a farm cottage by JCB.

Other minor skirmishes involved solid wardrobes and old-fashioned armchairs, a Rubik’s cube attempt to fit a wooden couch frame into an Astra boot, skinned knuckles and chipped paint.

That’s because, as with so many things in my life, I have learned a little, but never mastered the skill with which professionals make a job look easy. That thought recurred last week when a sofa jammed on the stairs.

Before that thought – experience is recognising a mistake when you make it a second time – I should have remembered the first rule of furniture moving: never try to get a three-seater sofa upstairs on your own. Second rule, never try to get one downstairs on your own.

Reluctantly, I asked for help and with a little difficulty and a modicum of bad language – ladies and children present – son-in-law Nolan and I completed the move.

The problem only came about because we had finally got round to replacing a couple of faithful old couches. As well as almost surviving two generations – anything grandchildren Ebba and Isla can do to a sofa had already been done by their mother and her brother – these couches had survived a flood when in storage, been to several houses and on-loan to starter flats, and been re-covered.

Even in that state we hadn’t intended to replace them, but you know how it is. Go for a coffee, pass a sale, remember an idea that’s been discussed a few times, see a colour and style you like, check the bank balance, and there it is – two new couches on order.

What we should also have done was pay extra to have the old ones taken away. Thinking I could readily find them a home, I balked at that and saved all of £30.

But, rightly, charities won’t accept couches without a fire-retardant label. More puzzling was the quizzing about the sideboard I also offered.

“Could it be a fire hazard?”

“It’s made of wood.”

“Has it any marks?”

“It’s a 40-year-old sideboard. It has a glass ring, a gouge where it caught on a window catch when being unloaded by JCB and one door hinge is dodgy.”

“It’s just that people are very choosy now. We’ll see what we can do.”

So, now I’m waiting for that call, and wondering how easy two couches will be to saw in half. Third rule of furniture moving: pay the £30. «

Twitter: @FordyceMaxwell