MUCH as I adore her, I do have to say that Mrs Hextol has something of a thing about tables.

Now one table is very like another to me, but Mrs Hextol has become something of an expert on items of furniture on which to rest our plates and cutlery at meal times.

There must be half a dozen different kitchen tables stashed away at various points around the house and in the garage, along with their accompanying chairs, cushions and other fol de rols.

For the last few years, we have had a round table in the kitchen acquired from a posh house in Hexham for a not so trifling sum.

I have always found this highly polished piece of oak the perfect place at which to eat, and indeed, if King Arthur and his men ever wake from their eternal slumbers on Sewingshields Crag on the Roman Wall, and decide to come calling, they would have the perfect place to sit down and shake the dust off their armour.

It’s adjustable, you see, with two large pieces which slot into the middle of the table to increase the seating capacity from four to about a dozen.

I thought this wondrous table would slake even Mrs Hextol’s thirst for table perfection, but lately she has been reading out adverts for furniture from the internet in increasingly hectoring tones.

I have even resorted to removing my hearing aids so as to avoid the latest broadcasts from every furniture maker across the land.

However, the upshot was that the other day two large parcels were delivered to Hextol Towers, one containing a flat pack table, and the other the chairs to go with it.

She had given up trying to interest me in tables, and ordered them from the internet herself.

She said: “It’s very modern, and it won’t take you that long to put them all together.”

She said this very quickly, as she knows that I am the world’s worst flat pack assembly technician.

But she added: “Even you can’t go wrong when there’s only a wooden top and four legs to stick on.”

The Thomas Chippendale in me accepted she might have a point, so I graciously agreed to have a go.

After about three quarters of an hour I had managed to open most of the packaging, and tunnel through the acres of polystyrene sheets and wadded cardboard to find the instructions, which indicated that the set had to be erected in the room in which it was to be used.

That meant I would have to dismantle the round table, and find some place to store it before I could even think about building the replacement.

It took an hour to get the legs off the old table, with Mrs George Hepplewhite breathing down my neck and urging me to get a move on, without scratching the surface with its Mr Sheen patina.

I was eventually able to roll it into the passage to create room for the new arrival.

Along with the multiple pieces of wood and shiny surfaces, there was a strangely shaped piece of chocolate coloured hardboard.

I could not for the life of me identify it from the complex diagram showing how everything would slot together.

I was trying to work it out when I turned the piece over, and found it had been stamped in red ink with the words: “This is not one of the components of your new table; it is only packing.”

There was the usual plastic bag containing, dowels, and an Allen key, and multiple screws and bolts of marginally different lengths.

The table went together better than I had dared to hope, although there was one false start when I put a couple of bits on upside down, and had to go back to square one.

And then I tried to put bolt C where bolt A should have gone, and caused further consternation.

So after some four hours, I had the table up and secured, and the additional two hours it took me to put together the chairs seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.

Finally, it was up, but when I proudly displayed my handiwork to Mrs Hextol she was not impressed.

“Are you sure you have put it together properly, because it didn’t look like this in the picture on the internet?”

She walked round it a couple of times, and declared: “I don’t like it – I think we’ll just go back to the round table.”