Henry’s new mattress

What you’re about to read is based on real life events..

Henry was sick of his foam mattress.  In fact he was so sick that he decided to do something about it, rather than just moan inside his boggy, clogged-up head.  He was enduring a particularly stubborn cold which the mattress wasn’t helping.  Each morning he produced a peculiarly admirable ball of solid mucus.  To help his virus pass he needed to be upright, not sagging.  Besides, sprung mattresses were more comfortable than stolid, unmoving, ungiving foam, weren’t they?  He didn’t know why he’d endured it for so long.

Henry drove to the intimidating space station of Ikea in the outskirts of the city.  After clumsily parking he scaled the escalators and began pacing blearily down the endless corridors and different home sections, looking for beds and mattresses, intermittently blowing his nose.

Eventually he found them.  Yes, that was all the selection they had, confirmed a member of staff, but to buy one he’d have to go and select it from the Marketplace downstairs.  Henry thanked him, which sparked a sneezing fit.

The Marketplace had the feeling of a large warehouse, boxes stacked upon boxes, everything grey, cold and faintly nightmarish.  Pick a large insecurity from the rack, it appeared to goad the wide-eyed shoppers.  Bet you can’t assemble me.

Henry found his item and wrestled the mattress onto a metal trolley – a larger sibling of the ones you get in airports.  Even so, there was no way of neatly fitting it onto the trolley, so he dragged it by one handle and coaxed one corner of mattress carefully between obstacles and shoppers, towards the cash desks.

He paid a smiley teenage girl before steering his load into the industrially sized elevator, which eventually sunk into the car park.  The giant doors parted and it took Henry a few moments to remember where he had left his car, between a pair of white lines but at a sloppy diagonal he was too lazy to correct.  Following gradually more certain paces and several breaks to allow motorists to pass him and his trolley, he stopped at the rear door of his car.

Henry looked at the dimensions of the mattress, then looked at the dimensions of the car, then looked at the mattress again.

How is this going to fit?

Is this going to fit?

Might this all get rather embarrassing?

This is Ikea.  Surely they deal with things like this all the time, Henry reasoned.  There must be clever burly staff around.  One of them will see me being useless.  In the meantime, he unpeeled the protective plastic seal and withdrew supporting cardboard slats which lined the edges of the mattress and clearly made the whole package much bigger.  That would help.  He opened the rear door and tried squeezing…

It was ridiculous.  He felt idiotic, like an exceptionally hapless Tetris player.

A man appeared to his right.  A member of staff.  Praise be..  The ideal kind of simple – logical, practical; he was helping two women a few cars away.  You need to take out ALL the cardboard and fold it over on itself, he shouted over two vehicles to Henry.  Wait there.

Henry extracted all of the supporting cardboard and waited there.  Here was the man who knew what he was doing.  Henry would be saved.  Between the pair of them they folded and contorted and jammed the double mattress into his modestly sized car, then snared the beast by closing the door.  It was done.

Driving back, Henry wondered how he was going to transfer the mattress from his car, across the courtyard, up three flights of stairs and into his flat, entirely without help.  He wasn’t even sure he could carry it on his own.  It was large, heavy and cumbersome.  At a set of traffic lights he stopped worrying for a moment, turned on Classic FM and blew his tireless nose.

He parked in the usual way, reversing into his space to allow a quick exit.  On cutting the engine he realised that on this occasion he should have entered nose first, giving him more space to remove the mattress, and less distance to carry it to his building.  It didn’t occur to him at all that he could have parked as close to his building as possible and moved his car to his space afterwards.  Instead he unpopped the handbrake and let the car roll forwards a yard or two, giving more space in which to wrestle.  Then he went to pave the way by opening and leaving ajar doors to his building and flat.

Upon attempting to wiggle the mattress out of his car under falling rain, Henry realised that he still hadn’t devised any plan about how to carry the mattress.  He wasn’t even sure if he could.  He was also aware his nose was running and he wasn’t in a position to address it.  And it was raining so he was getting wet.  And he was beginning to sweat considerably, but would probably sweat much more before this was all done.

That was, if he could get it all done.

Was he able to do this?  Or was it conceivable that in a couple of minutes he’d be sitting on his new mattress in the middle of the residential car park, crying; snot, rain and tears rolling down his face?  Just try it, Henry, he told himself.  See what happens.  You’re on your own.  Nobody else is going to help you.

Keeping the mattress folded in half, he wrapped his arms around its sides, hugged it to himself and waddled quickly across the car park, propping himself up against a bush at halfway to get a tighter grip.  He was red and sweating and not feeling very well.

Henry made it through his front door and breathed out.  Not much further.  The stairs though.  They did present a considerable challenge.  Help would have been nice.  Had none of his neighbours seen his brave struggle?  Were they staying in, surreptitiously peering around their curtains, laughing at him?  So much for Neighbourhood bloody watch.

Henry dragged and tugged and hauled and rolled the mattress up the stairs, frequently pausing to rest.  Where was everyone?  Anyone?  H-E-L-P me!  He felt his life-force dimming, his head pounding, the waterfall in his nose unrelenting.  He felt like he’d been climbing the stairs for several weeks, and still not a soul..


Away with the self-doubt now, Henry, he told himself.  You’ve come this far.  You CAN do this!  One last push.  With a growl-charged exertion, a sweat-drenched and beetroot coloured Henry yanked the mattress up the final step, and tugged, pulled and tumbled it through the doorway of his flat.


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