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Tuesday 11th September 2012

The design and build team who did all the amazing work to my house were round first thing this morning to do a few final bits of painting and picture-hanging. They had also kindly agreed to assist me with my sofa problem. I suspected that they would laugh at me, openly in my face. But they were kind enough to wait until they had left and were out of earshot to do that.
They had a good look at it and decided that the best way to deal with the issue was to remove the arms of the sofa. I had considered attempting this myself as I had located the bolts that looked like they'd release the arms, but I assumed that there was glue or stitching involved too and didn't want to risk it without professional help. As it happened the arms both came off without causing any damage and the now shortened sofa could be released from its prison and taken downstairs. I was slightly embarrassed about how easy it had been. But only slightly. The nightmare was over. We could get back to our normal lives.
There had been a fair amount of scuffing of paintwork down the stairways and two sizeable cracks in the plaster on the ceiling of this final stairway, but this brilliant team of builders and craftsmen kindly put all the damage right, painting over the scuff marks and filling the gaps in the plaster. They have done an amazing job over the last six months and I would heartily recommend them to anyone getting any building or maintenance work done (They are West London based). The firm is called Gnosco Ltd. This is a genuine and unsolicited endorsement (which I have not received any payment or discount for). Plus if you get your sofa stuck in a hallway they won't make you feel like a prick about it. Money can't buy that kind of service.
The important thing that sofagate is over. And the other important thing is never to us a sofa as a gate. But thanks for all your support through this difficult time. I know that none of you were laughing at me.
My latest Metro column about the Yellow Pages was in the paper today. The editors are usually quite good at letting me know if they want to change something and have rarely changed anything at all in my pieces. But today I noticed a couple of odd subtractions and additions. They weren't anything that massively changed the meaning of the piece and I wasn't in danger of getting angry or doing a Giles Coren, but I found it interesting how one of them made a joke slightly less funny. The more understandable sub-edit had been to change the bit where I referred to myself as being like "a Hercules" and "a Skeletor" to being like "Hercules" and "Skeletor". Of course this is a Herringism that many of you will be familiar with - it's grammatically wrong, but childishly amusing and gives the impression that there might be lots of Herculeses and Skeletors that you can choose from (just as "put Shrek in it" is not funny, but "put a Shrek in it" (hopefully) is).
The slightly odder change was in the line which said the internet "gives us more choice and can save a lot of time (which we are then free to waste on Twitter, Facebook or pornography)." I had actually written "Twitter and pornography" and for some reason the sub editor had decided to add Facebook into that. It's not easy to ascertain why but the line is not as funny with that addition. The comedy rule of three suggests that in a list you have two normal examples and then a third one that surprises the reader/listener, but in this case two is funnier, maybe because the juxtaposition is much sharper and surprising without the preamble. It might also partly be down to the rhythm of the line not being as satisfying, but it's mainly I think the bluntness and the idea that out of all the distractions on the internet I am tempted by only these two. Also maybe it just sounds true, mainly because it is.
I was told that the changes had been made for the technical reason of making the lines fit in the column (though that has never been an issue before) and I will still have preferred to be asked about it because I am sure I could have come up with a less clumsy solution. Like I say it's not worth losing any sleep over, but it's interesting how subtle comedy is and how changes made for grammatical or technical reasons can ruin it. I suspect that in fact someone either thought that it would be funnier to have three things in the list, or was worried that some of the readers of the Metro might prefer Facebook to Twitter and feel excluded. The logic of the sub editor is not always the best for comedic ideas to flourish. If I was Lembit Opik no doubt I would say "You check the spelling and I'll do the jokes," but I am not him so I won't.

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