I was filming for Watchdog on Friday morning. All was going well, until they said they had a blackboard which they wanted me to do sums on during a piece-to-camera â easy peasy lemon squeezy I thought â but then the producer dropped the bomb: "by the way, the blackboard easel’s a flat-pack and we want to film you putting it up on camera".
Cue a little internal gulp from me. While working out the sums and talking is second nature to me, putting up flat pack furniture â eek! Normally for things like this, Mrs MSE is near to help (OK, that’s a lie, Mrs MSE usually does it herself and tells me not to get in the way). I sometimes feel when I try these things I’m nonodextrous.
"Don’t worry" said the researcher, "the man in the shop said it should only take 10 minutes." Great, so now she’s given me a time limit beyond which I look silly too. So I took the pieces out of the box; wooden sticks, a joint and two different types of screws. Marvellous.
Picture me on a Covent Garden pavement, scrabbling around trying to work through the instructions (no words â just diagrams) dropping screws, planks, restarting and frankly muttering to myself as if I’d been on the Stella for the whole 17 minutes it took me. Thankfully the whole thing was a locked off camera shot, meaning it will be sped up and shown in a blur. I suspect I may look partially competent when that happens â the magic of TV.