AS THE WORLD BECOMES increasingly crowded, so folding will become ever more important because folding things helps you fit more stuff into less space. Research has shown that 90% of women who complain about lack of storage space for their clothing are strangers to folding. But most of us men are already pretty familiar with folding thanks to the folding stuff. Only rich men in oversized coats with wallets like wine menus don’t fold their cash.
Folding sheets used to be a big thing in the quaint old days when people used to wash their sheets. One person stood at each end of the sheet, and both folded several times in completely different directions until one person got fed up and left. Then the other person had to fold it by standing on top of the wardrobe to get enough height to let the sheet hang straight before flicking it up and attempting to catch it halfway in a little fold. This performance explains why most people now use a duvet.
Things that fold out rather than in are huge fun because they suddenly go from two dimensions to three. For example, fold-out chairs make you more aware of the joy of sitting and a fold-away bed helps you sleep better because you know that the alternative would be to sleep standing up. Fold-up furniture also has a built-in slapstick factor in that it’s more than likely to fold up with you still in it. This slapstick factor is not always a good thing as you would, for example, hesitate before doing serious business with somebody who used a folding bicycle on a regular basis and who wasn’t in the circus industry.
Folding things does three things: it makes things smaller, it makes them squarer, and it gives you nice edges. That’s why you can’t get folding blancmange. Folding is about control and order and discipline. It can also be an incredibly frustrating and boring thing to do; too much of it and you end up wanting to cause havoc and mayhem. That’s why army basic-training consists of hours of folding and creasing things followed by bayonet practice.
Folding is an art, and if you’ve ever seen someone try to fold a large newspaper in a crowded train, you’ll know that very few people have it. If you think you can fold things, try opening out a topographical map and then folding it back so that all the creases go the same way. Research has shown that the likelihood of folding a map back the same way you unfolded it is significantly less than being hit by a block of frozen urine jettisoned from a passing airliner.
© GUY BROWNING IS AUTHOR OF ‘NEVER PUSH WHEN IT SAYS PULL’ AND CREATOR OF ‘TORTOISE IN LOVE’ (DVD) – USED BY PERMISSION.