The Third Leader: Sofa, so good

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Knowledge is the most splendid thing, isn't it? Oh, I know, courtesy of Francis Bacon, about it being power; and I know how useful it can be, particularly when I can't find the washing machine handbook and that seeping on to the floor is continuing and I'm trying to get through to customer services with the hand that isn't holding the towel. But even the most useless knowledge has a compelling quality. Just the other day, for example, I learnt that the old Chislehurst and Bickley telephone exchange was called "Imperial", in honour of Napoleon III, who came to live in Chisle- hurst after that unpleasantness with the Prussians in 1870. Marvellous.

And then, yesterday, I learnt that six weeks will always be the time given to deliver a new sofa. It's industry practice, allowing long enough to cover all conceivable eventualities. Marvellous.

This one, though, I feel, could be rather more instructive. Instant gratification, after all, is the urge of the age; but delight in anticipation is the mark of the truly civilised; one has only to look at Mr Brown for an inspiring example.

So, once you know it will always be six weeks, you can relax and devise ways of creating a highly enjoyable tension. A sofa calendar, for example, on the Advent model. Dispose of the old one (after checking down the sides), and lie on the floor where it will stand, imagining.

Take as your mentor that great poet William Cowper, who was challenged to write a poem on a sofa (figuratively), and produced his masterpiece, The Task, which begins "I sing the Sofa" and runs on for six books. So that's one a week.

Good luck; I'm off down the pub.

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