Up the Walls of the World
We asked Ken to write us something for Plokta. "What sort of thing would you like?" he asked. "Oh, a nice IKEA anecdote or similar" we suggested.
The Thing lurks in the corner behind the television, above the stereo, its eighteen blind eyes stopped up with Polyfilla. It has no mouth, and it still screams. It has a history, and a pre-history.
Its pre-history is somewhere in that dim, Cimmerian period when you still had to tell people about the Internet. Way back then, we bought a stereo player for vinyl and cassette. We put it all in the corner, and it sounded just as good as any of our existing boom-boxes, until the evening, months later, when I dug out the Black and Decker and mounted the speakers in the upper corners of the wall. I stuck on a tape and sat down and it was stereo magic. It seemed like Bono was standing somewhere on the curtain-rail playing like a leprechaun.
After that we got a shelving-unit to put the stereo player on, and it had little shelves for cassettes, and an empty shelf underneath.
Carol came home one day with a CD player, and a CD. I told her we already had a CD. We slid the slim device onto the empty shelf under the stereo, Carol slid the new CD in, and there was Bjork, singing like a valkyrie.
Time passed, the oceans drank Atlantis etc, and, like the sons of Aryas in that italicky bit at the beginning of every Conan novel, the CDs ...rose. They rose around the player in tottering stacks.
They were piled up around it, and on it, and poked out of every itsy shelf that came with the black shelving-unit. You couldn't get at the controls with without shifting stacks of CDs. You couldn't get at the telly without shifting stacks of videos. It was like they were books or something.
'That corner needs shelves,' Carol would say. After a few months I agreed. We went off to B&Q and bought shelves suitable for paperbacks and CDs. I'm sure it said that somewhere.
I dug out the Black and Decker and drilled a couple of dozen holes, as enthusiastic as a Polish coal-miner who's just been given a redundancy notice from someone he once went on strike for.
Gloriously the shelves went up. Two of them took all our videos of films, and the rest took all our CDs. But they didn't feel quite right. I took to touching them, surreptitiously with a finger, like a tongue on a dodgy filling. One evening, I did that once too often. A shelf came down and took all the others with it.
Every CD came out of its case. Every case had plaster dust on it. Every cute glass lamp and ornament Carol had bought at IKEA had been shattered.
This time I went to B&Q alone, and bought a lot of long, heavy-duty plaster screws and Rawlplugs the size of mole-crickets. I put the shelves up again and went off to Novacon, where I rashly promised to write a piece on the horror of shelving, for Plokta.
"I rashly promised to write a piece on the horror of shelving, for Plokta."
On my return from Novacon, Carol waved at the corner. On the shelves were two new lamps and a couple of vases from IKEA. I felt this was like the famous Python waffer-thin mint, but I said nothing. The glass in the vases wasn't waffer-thin. It was more like Mars-Bar thick.
One morning I woke to a sound like the house having a slipped disc, and I knew exactly what I would find.
When I finish this book I'm going to get some kind of free-standing shelving units to put in that corner, and the silent screaming will stop.