Flat Packs

One of the bloggers that I follow is Hallysan at Photographic Memories.  In a recent blog acknowledging an award, she had to give us seven things about herself.  One was that she was good with her hands and that caused me to comment that I was not and flat packs send me into a spin.

I remember one particular time when a flat pack was in order.  I had arrived in London in time for Christmas and was staying with my sister.  A few days before Christmas Day a flat-pack arrived by courier.  My sister had ordered a toy kitchen for one of her grand-daughters.

We opened the package and saw how many pieces needed to be put together, so in the hope that her son would turn up in the next few days, we closed the box and put it aside.

The days passed and Christmas Eve arrived but her son didn’t, so we were faced with putting this toy together.  The first warning read “Not to be assembled by anyone under 10 years” (or words to that effect).  Then there were the usual warnings about small items and small children but hey – we were two adult, grown-up Grandmothers.  We could do this!

My sister is much better with her hands than am I – in fact both sisters are and it would be hard to find anyone who wasn’t.  So she would put the pieces together ie build the kitchen and I would read the instructions and pass the requisite screws, screwdriver, stickers, parts etc.  We were doing very well until I turned over two pages in the instruction book.  Yes, there was a book and it had been translated into English from Chinese, we think by Goofy and his pals.  It made hilarious reading.  I wish I had known the Good Greatsby then and his command of Chinglish it would have been very useful.

Imagine this.  Two adult women surrounded by pieces of a toy kitchen, screws, stickers etc and having no idea how to put it all together.  Hours passed in discussion on how to do this, interspersed with shrieks of laughter when first one thing and then another either didn’t fit or hallelujah it did fit!

Then telephone calls to nieces and nephews in London, to family and friends in New Zealand and to elder sister in Los Angeles.  They all shared in the hilarity and passed comment and advice while we tried to put this danged thing together.

My mobile phone bill reached an all-time high and we did too.  Eventually, a rather wobbly kitchen was put together but my nephew commented the next day that one of the panels was in upside down or round the wrong way, but the four-year-old for whom it was intended loved it anyway.

So no more flat packs for me.  I enjoyed the exercise of putting it together but oh dear me, at the end of it we were left with about thirty extra screws.  I wonder where they were meant to go?  And I never enquired as to how long the kitchen stayed upright.  I left shortly after Christmas and it never came up in conversation again.

As I have said before sisters are the best friends and they are also the best people with whom to share such an experience.

Flat pack car
Flat pack cat

“A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange.”
Author Unknown


26 responses to “Flat Packs

  1. Wonderful ! (thanks for the mention). πŸ˜€
    I once went to visit my brother-in-law a whole week after christmas and soon understood why myneice was so pleased to see me … She had been given a Barbie jeep and caravan on Christmas day and it was still sitting in an opened box, the stickers attached waiting for me to put it together.


  2. I have found out that when I am out digging for stuff I come upon things that do bring back memories.


  3. Toy kitchen. I remember. But I had the real deal because when I was 3-5 years old, while all the cousins were outside playing, I stayed with grandma in the kitchen doing little tasks as she prepared the Sicilian style meals. And watched. Poor people, rural Italian cooking. Made me a a fine put-it-all-together-in-forty-minutes bachelor chef with variety. One of my simple favorites is to use artichoke/spinach dip as sauce for spaghetti. Ooooh, to die for !


    • Thanks Carl. I haven’t tried the artichoke/spinach dip either as a dip or as a sauce. Will try it as soon as I can find an artichoke to buy at the market.


  4. Oh boy can I relate!! Never heard of the expression β€œflat packs” but I understand none the less. My husband and I spent many a late, sleepless night on Christmas Eve putting kid’s toys together before morning. I never was so happy when my oldest where capable to do the job for us — then we left things in the boxes and Christmas Day was spent putting them together with only a little help from us. Oh, the memories!!! Thanks for sharing your experience, Judith — started my day with a smile.


  5. The things I learn from people in other countries….This is my first time hearing the term “flat pack”…I am guessing it has to do with an item that comes assembly required? where you have to put it together yourself? πŸ™‚
    In any case, your story is hilarious. Putting together items can be rather confusing, irritating AND funny at the same time!


    • It’s interesting the words and phrases we have for different things. In fact, yesterday speaking about this incident with a friend, who had been involved via the phone from London, he said he had never heard the term flat packs. So maybe it is an English term.
      Thanks for the comment.:)


  6. loved reading this. silliness is a gift in life.


  7. I always wonder if Chinese instructions are simply copied and pasted into an online translator. If this is the case, maybe it’s possible to translate it backwards and come up with the correct instructions.


  8. Keeping our wits . . . and our sense of humor . . . about us is the key to fitting Flat Pack pieces together.

    Thanks, Judith.


  9. Oh the crazy Kitchen that I bought for Lily. That was the funniest thing ever, of course it all went hilariously wrong because you turnes over the pages two at a time and insisted that you knew what you were doing. When I ordered the thing I tought being plastic it would all just push together Ah BIG MISTAKE! The phone calls were so funny everyone was convinced we were drunk,as if. As you said there were lots of screws over. Lily was only 2 years old so she did not notice it leaning. John and the word screwing comes to mind.
    Yesterday I actually assembled my new cleaner. screws in handle etc. Daisy age 8 read the instructions and Harry age 5 passed the tools and screws. Laugh of course we did when Nanny knocked everything on the floor.


    • Oh it was so funny and I have just relived it with JC again. Aren’t you clever to have assembled a vacuum cleaner. Bet that didn’t come in a flat pack!


  10. Those flat-packs are a nightmare .. lucky you to find entertainment and humor during your ordeal. πŸ˜‰


    • It was really so funny. My sister who enjoyed the experience with me, made the comment above.and told me that the child for whom it was intended was only 2 – so even less concerned about how it looked. πŸ™‚


  11. I didn’t know what a flat pack was, either; but now I understand–some assembly required. We’ve gotten a kick out of some of the instructions in those things, too. I love the image of the two of you laughing so hard.


  12. Christine in Los Angeles

    Thirty screws left-over — sounds like the time Jack converted my bicycle to a stationary ‘cycle — five screws left on the floor. But he assured me it would still be safe to ride. Well, he was an ex. by that time, so wouldn’t be around when I fell off the bloomin’ thing.
    Love you lots.
    God bless,


  13. Pingback: I am just thinking | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

  14. Pingback: F is for Flat Packs | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

Let's talk

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.