Why does tackling the workings of a child's car seat require a physics degree?
I dug out the instruction book.
Do I want to adjust the straps? Nope.
Do I want to know how to undo the harness? Yeah. Ha bloody ha. That's dead helpful that.
Do I want to wear the seat as an elaborate Lady's Day hat? Hello?! That's next Tuesday.
Do I want to use it as a lilo? With the jet pack? To herd cattle?
No. I. Do. Not.
I merely want to remove the cover from the bloody thing and PUT IT IN THE WASHING MACHINE.
Turns out this information, nestled in at the back of the instruction book, comes under a chapter called
'Two Minute Jobs? You're Having A Laugh'.
I flicked my way through paragraphs and subsections and disclaimers and small print, then finally, I located the information I required, which was only available in the French column of the multilingual instructions. Having spat my way through five years of G.C.S.E German, I would be relying heavily on the numbered diagrams, which sadly, looked like they had been drawn with absolutely no reference to the chair itself, and with the artistic dexterity of those who paint Mickey Mouses on the side of ice cream vans.
I fed fabric belts through tiny holes and fabric holes through tiny belts. I pulled things and jiggled stuff. I turned the chair upside down. On its side. I lay it down. Still nothing resembled the diagrams. On turning to the next page, I discovered an incredibly disconcerting picture of a buckle (which, as far as I could see, did not exist on this model) obscured by a giant red cross. This meant nothing to me. Except that I should never touch it. Or that it was poisonous. Or that it had previously been a contestant on the X Factor.
Seat cover off. No messing.
In the washer. Washed. Dried on the line. BOOM!
Now, just got to replace it.
But this time, despite bandying my tools about throughout, it was no good. I grappled. I struggled. I strained. I poked about aimlessly with the knife down tubes and holes and pockets.
Then, I saw it. It looked exactly the same. I recognised it perfectly.
It was THAT buckle.
The famous buckle you never touch. It was there, right under the seat, tucked away, but dangling about at me. Winking.
Turns out the big scary red cross did not mean do not touch. It meant 'don't let this buckle end up right under the seat, tucked away, dangling about like this'. Because you will never, ever, EVER get the bugger back.
After enlisting the help of Stephen Hawkins (dead clever), Jimmy Krankie (tiny hands) and most importantly, the blunt cutlery knife out of the kitchen door, after seven hours of patient manipulation, we managed to retrieve the buckle.
I restored the seat to its former brand spanking new glory. Complete with gorgeous 'fresh off the line' scent.
And she only puked bile smelling, chunky orange stuff down one side of it.
So half of it is still clean. And the other half is staying dirty.