Of all the characteristics that Jack has inherited from his father, perhaps the most useful has been the ability to squeeze an impossible amount of objects into a three-door hatchback. I have to admit, I've never fully appreciated this skill before. I see piles of wood and crates and brochures occupying the office floor and the next time I see them they're in the car and we're on our way to an exhibition. I've never given a second thought to what happens in between. That was until we developed a squeak. Ten minutes into the four hour journey to Harrogate, something shifted in the back of the car and the squeak began. I turned up the music and hoped Jack wouldn't notice. Unfortunately he has the ears of a spaniel when it comes to high pitched sounds and the patience of a wasp. (I should point out that I've sat here for fifteen minutes trying to find an appropriate word to describe Jack's patience. I'm not sure if the wasp is a typical symbol of impatience but if you imagine being stuck in a small room with a pissed off wasp, that's what it was like being in the car with Jack during the squeak saga.) "WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THAT THING UP?" he hissed. It was here that I was going to discover just how difficult it must be to pack a car.
The planks of wood three inches from my face were the first obstacle. My attempt to navigate these whilst in a high-speed moving vehicle was less than successful. I emerged looking like a splintery hedgehog but this was the least of my worries as I perched on the glove box assessing the situation before me. It looked like a sort of tetris of DIY equipment with every tool slotted perfectly into place. There was no beginning and no end, it was strangely beautiful. I had no idea how it had been done and no inclination to disrupt it knowing that I would have zero chance of recreating such an intricate feat of arrangement. I spotted what I recognised as a ladder and tried to nudge it but nothing happened. Even if I managed to locate the squeak, how on earth would I be able to stop it?
Meanwhile the wasp was getting increasingly more irritable in the front and I knew I had very little time to act. I sort of threw myself headfirst against the area in front of me and counted to twenty. No squeak! I manoeuvred my way back to my seat and stole a sideways glance at Jack who seemed to be appeased. Just as I started to relax, we hit a bump, the squeak returned with extra enthusiasm, Jack's head exploded and he launched a verbal assault upon the car and everything in it. Luckily for me, Jack's patience for yelling far outweighed his patience for the squeak and I was treated to the tirade for the duration of the journey. When we arrived, one thing was clear: next time we'd be getting a van.
The 'next time' in question was six weeks away when we'd be exhibiting at the Autumn Fair. Due to a 'clerical error' the 3 metre by 1 metre stand that we were expecting to occupy had turned into a much larger 5 by 1.5. Never ones to turn down a challenge, we decided to say yes first and figure out how to fill it later. What ensued was a period of our lives that I can only describe as panic-fuelled chaos.
We had been working on a new collection for the previous few months which would harness a pioneering digital foiling technique. We were in the process of running tests with various boards and finishes with the aim of releasing the range at next year's Spring Fair, but then a sample came back which changed everything. It was perfect. All that we had envisioned and hoped for was right there in front of us. At that moment one of us (Jack) had a fantastic idea. Let's bring the range forward and release it at Autumn Fair! Brilliant. Now we had to complete an entire range, get a full set of samples, add it to the brochure, get a proof of the brochure, order the brochure and create a brand new stand design which would fill our giant space all whilst fulfilling our Harrogate orders and any other orders that were coming in as well as adding a new special finish to one of our existing ranges... IN JUST SIX WEEKS. Our chances did not look good. I quickly googled 'How much sleep do you really need?' and then we got straight to work. (To be continued...)