Xmas Anecdotes | The Sofa of Doom

Emily Garside learns a valuable if unorthodox Christmas lesson revolving around an ugly sofa given to her family.

‘Twas the night (well mid-morning) before Christmas and several creatures were stirring including a very put out dog. My uncle arrived with a pickup truck and his cleaning lady (yes, he has a cleaning lady) and a very large, very blue sofa suite. Which as it turned out was also very, very dirty; (I’d question those cleaning lady wages, personally).

Backtracking a bit, he’d mentioned my cousin had rejected a sofa she had and left it in his basement. My mum decided that as it was going spare it might be the thing for the newly decorated living room. And because apparently my uncle has no sense of which days of the year are not ideal to take delivery of a (giant, blue, filthy) sofa, on Christmas eve it arrived.

It was, as I may have mentioned large, and blue… and, well, frankly ugly. But mum wanted it, so I kept my mouth shut, because at Christmas you attempt to be nice to family members (even if this does mean lugging large pieces of furniture around). The sofa came in. It was still massive and blue. Some kind of giant blue creature had taken up residence in the living room. The dog wasn’t the only one slightly put out. Actually the dog wasn’t just put out, she couldn’t get out; once on this giant sofa it turned out she couldn’t get down again, such was the size of the thing to her relatively tiny legs.

And the dirt. We’re talking Channel 4 documentary dirty. We’re talking dog hairs forming an extra layer underneath, like some kind of sofa under-shirt, we’re talking water turning black after scrubbing it. Think of the worst student accommodation you can think of, add to that about 6 dogs, 3 cats and a bird (evidence of all 3 I found as well as many an unidentifiable mark). Add to that a measure of basement damp… I think even Channel 4 documentary makers might reject it. I spent three hours on Christmas Eve and another three on Boxing day attempting to clean it. I try not to think about the hours I actually sat on it on Christmas day.

There came a point on Boxing day where it was me or the sofa. I stood up, and declared ‘That’s it, I’ve tried I’m sorry but I hate it!’ (I’m a drama queen at the best of times, Christmas and a bicarbonate of soda rash only makes this worse). With an exhalation, my mum agreed. And much to the relief of my knees scrubbing ceased for the day. Alas the sofa was doomed to stay with us at least until morning.

The thing was, it was like being trapped with an uncooperative relative for all of Christmas. Inherited from a relative we have little to do with, and about as welcome as a relative who won’t leave.

And leave it would not. Now we wanted it out, we had to get it out. Luckily the old sofa hadn’t gone anywhere – it being Christmas Eve ‘un all. Of course, there had been 4 people to get it in, and only 2 to get one giant sofa out and one human sized one back in.

At this point the dog was having nothing to do with any of it.

We struggled to get the giant sofa out. Turns out getting a giant sofa through regular sized doors isn’t easy. Neither is getting a regular sized one back in either. Oh and added to the fun: Christmas 2014 in Wales was a fairly damp affair. And in the process, mum fell backwards the chair landing on top of her. That would have been a story for Christmas A&E, luckily it wasn’t that serious. But it’s not really what you want for a relaxing Christmas is it?

Rescue came in the form of a dog-walking friend who in spite of it being Christmas, and in spite of have actual flu (not man flu, though I’m told that’s worse) came and put our sofas back to rights. Which, if I can pause in this tirade of sarcasm and furniture based anger, is actually in the spirit of Christmas. So often the festive season is rung to the tune of ‘family is the most important thing’; well, to that, me, the sofa and the disgruntled pooch respectfully say: bollocks.

Two things we learned from that sofa. 1. Sometimes things are better left as they are. So the old sofa is back in, and this Christmas I’ll sit on it, drinking gin, with the dog (still grumpy). 2. Sometimes it isn’t who gives you the gifts, but who will help you get them out of your house that matter.

And the sofa? Eventually, 6 months later, it made it’s way to a final resting place at Cardiff rubbish tip.

Original illustration by Dean Lewis

Emily Garside is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review. Check out her new book Love That Journey For Me.