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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Wednesday March 28, 2007
05:46 PM

Douglas Adams had it quite right about the sofa

[ #32826 ]

So today there was this sofa, and there was this door. It is a very nice sofa, classy black leather, big chunky arms, good and generously spacious so 3 people could fit with ease. In fact, it's 2.1m long. We came to collect this sofa and deliver it to a new home, where it would be loved, cherished, and sat on. And we planned to arrive, drink tea, load the sofa, and depart Canterbury to deliver the sofa to the bright lights of London.

But the villain of the piece - the door - it had other plans. It is about 2m high. So far, so good, as sofas are free to rotate around any axis. Except that it should also be noted that whichever way your rotate the sofa, it is also wider than the door is wide.

But we know that the sofa delivery men brought the sofa in through that self same door, so therefore it must be possible to take it out. In one piece. Without damaging it.

Clearly Douglas Adams had it right about moving sofas when he wrote Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Having experienced the conundrum personally, I now have the utmost sympathy.

After about half an hour we decided to try cheating - we seemed to be catching on the door, so we removed it to give us a precious inch or so more. But it transpires that Bernard Cribbins was right too:

"Right," said Fred, "Have to take the door off
Need more space to shift the so-and-so."
Had bad twinges taking off the hinges
And it got us nowhere
And so we had a cuppa tea...

In the end, after about an hour and a half of trying all orientations, grinding the side of the door frame, having the sofa half in half out of the door, finding that it was always much easier to backtrack the sofa back into the room (is the gravity constant here?), removing the door from the cupboard opposite, and even checking that the carpet was in there when the sofa arrived* we finally managed to get it into the hall. At which point I declared it was time for a tea break (see above) before we tried to get it through the front door.

Fortunately we were able to repeat the correct technique** on the front door (without needing to remove it from its hinges) and had it through in 5 minutes. After which carrying it to the van was trivial.

Best part of the day's driving - coming out the 40mph temporary speed restriction on the M26, with a Ford Fiesta*** a bit behind me. It pulled out into the other lane to overtake me. I gently pushed the accelerator down in fourth gear, and the Fiesta got further away. The Fiesta driver thought better and pulled back in. I like Transits - they have quite a bit of poke.****

Currently the sofa is housed in the garage, rather than the living room, of the destination property, because we decided that we were too tired to try to get it in through 3 doors just as narrow as any of the others. In fact, we weren't sure if we could get it through the pairing of the porch and front doors. So it might turn out that the easiest way to get it in is out the back of the garage and in via the patio. Small problem of the garage's back wall*****. :-)

* IIRC James Duncan said that when it came time to replace his sofa, the old sofa wouldn't fit back out through the living room door that it had entered via. The reason - since it arrived, the a laminate floor had been installed in the living room, under the sofa, and now the additional thickness of the floor through the doorway reduced the height by a critical few millimetres, which was enough to entomb the sofa.

** Helen, donor of the sofa, observed that we had correctly identified that the back of the sofa was shorter than the depth of the sofa. However, as the back of the sofa is about 10° off the vertical, the sofa actually gets narrowest if you take care to hold the bottom vertical, rather than the back horizontal. Secondly, the sofa is only wider than the door this way at the corners, because of the feet. If one is able to take the sofa on a skew through the door initially, to get the feet through, then hook it back straight, it's now possible to take almost all of the sofa through straight. Finally you hook it slightly diagonally at the end to get the end of the back out, then move sideways to swing the feet through. Final observation - fret not if you have no distance to take the sofa in a straight line through the door. You can hold the middle of the sofa, base vertical, in the doorway, and rotate about a horizontal axis to turn the sofa towards the vertical, without it getting "wider".

*** Smallish car

**** Chris says that he gathers Mercedes "Sprinters" have the most oomph, but neither of us have driven one, so can't verify this.

***** hint - the very next verse of a certain song.

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