Before you ask, it's Morse Code. Look it up.
The downside of living in a one bedroomed flat is that there's a chronic lack of storage space. So this weekend I planned on putting up some extra shelving space in the bedroom to store some books on, given that my girlfriend and I have about three million of them (only a slight exaggeration - we've probably accounted for at least a couple of square kilometres of deforestation in the Amazon we have so many books). Off we pop to Sainsburys to pick up some "floating" shelves (i.e. really thick shelves where the wall fittings are actually self contained within the shelf itself - they look like very thick planks), and I crack out the spirit level, a ruler, pencil, screwdriver and an electric drill.
Within about five minutes I've marked out and drilled the six holes for the bracket and I stick in the rawl plugs. I start to screw the bracket onto the wall and it all goes horribly wrong. After a couple of turns of the screw, I notice that the screw isn't going into the wall anymore. It's just twisting the rawl plug, which is chewing great big lumps out of the wall. It's a good job that I don't live in an earthquake zone, because the plasterboard the walls are made from is of such poor quality that they'd dissolve into dust.
I try it again, using smaller, expanding rawl plugs, but when I try and screw the bracket on, the plugs twist and chew up the wall again. The bracket is barely even able to support its own weight, let alone the shelf and the couple of dozen books I'd intended to put on it. I try it a third, final time, using the original rawl plugs, but using smaller holes in the wall, hoping that it'll be third time lucky, but no - if anything it's worse. So now I have eighteen holes in the wall, a carpet covered in plaster dust and £60's worth of shelving units that I can't put up because the walls are so crap. My flat was probably sold for something in the region of £30,000 when it was built about 15 years ago, so that tells you something about the quality of construction; yet if I were to sell it now I could probably get something in the region of £150,000 for it. That's value for money, kids!
Somewhat understandably, I am very, very annoyed and a little frustrated to have spent £60 on shelving I can't even mount on the walls. Then Fleur has a brainwave as I'm polyfillering the holes and repainting the wall: she takes out a couple of stacks of my archived PC games mags from one of the cupboards and puts them on the floor by the wall behind the futon to use them as props for the shelves, forming a shelf-cum-headboard between the bed and the wall. So not only have we liberated space from our bookcase, but we also gained a headboard and freed up an entire shelf in the living room cupboard.
So in the end, not a complete disaster, though we still have a couple of the shelves spare, until I can figure out how to rig them up on a frame to attach them to pair we have propped up on the floor. I sense a trip to B&Q coming on...