Earlier this year, a London design agency filled a gallery with plastic balls and invited the public to come and play in it, for free. Great idea, except for the whole "open to the general public" part. Fun is not other people.
I decided I should re-create this stunt, except in my flat and without inviting anyone else.
"Why?" colleagues asked when I told them. "Because WHY THE FUCK NOT!" I shouted, wide eyed and maniacal.
What is the point of growing up if you can't do all the dumb things you couldn't do as a child? As this XKCD comic strip proves, it's literally the only benefit of adulthood.
Peter Pan had it wrong. Grow up, get a job, and funnel that money into a variety of juvenile and completely impractical stunts. Better yet, get your job to pay for it.
I'm 32. I pay my taxes. I vote. And this week I turned my flat into a ball pool.
Here's how I did it.
Prep your area.
Because space is at a premium when you live alone in a tiny flat, I moved some of my furniture into the bathroom – my chest of drawers, bookcase, and guitar. Then I covered the floor and the wall heaters with yoga mats to minimise noise.
The last thing I wanted to do was alert my neighbours to the possibility that I had a goddamn ball pool in my flat. Not that I didn't want to get busted, I just didn't want to have to invite them to play in it. Get your own ball pool, fuckers.
To contain my balls, I blocked the bathroom door with a baby gate, and planned to do the same for the front door. Because the front door opens inwards, I was going to use two baby gates to make a bay for the door to open into. Amazon delivered only one of them.
In the end, I MacGyvered a cardboard/baby-gate hybrid solution with Christmas tape for the front door, in order to keep the balls at bay. If there's one thing I can't emphasise enough, it's get yourself a roll of Christmas tape. That shit is handy all year.
Get some balls.
I rented my balls from Dancing Cubs in London, who were very helpful and charged £15 per bag of 700 balls. They also delivered. I just had to work out how many balls I wanted.
Thankfully, some legend made a website to help calculate how many balls you need to fill a space. I needed around 7,000 balls, or 10 bags, to fill my flat. That's a lot of balls.
Carting my hefty ball bags up two flights of stairs was sweaty work, and after a 10-minute breather, I finally took out my balls. This was a very satisfying feeling.
Spread your balls.
Once I'd emptied my ball bags all over the floor, I stood back and marvelled at the spectacle. If you've ever wondered how deep is balls deep, I can tell you it's about 2 feet.
I dived in.
I immediately posted a selfie to Twitter and Instagram because my life is nothing if not a carefully curated series of moments designed to make you believe it's incredible, but also because WHO'S NO FUCKING FUN NOW, JULIE? HUH?
Quite immediately the balls presented practical concerns. They made getting around the flat very difficult, and though visibly clean, carried a faint hum of piss and bleach.
A sensible question might have been:
How many kids had shat on or around these balls?
But this was no time for sensible concerns. MY ENTIRE FLAT WAS A FUCKING BALL POOL AND I WAS GOING TO LIE IN THAT FUCKER ALL DAY.
Enjoy your balls.
I spent the whole morning playing with my balls.
Refuse to share.
From the outset, this was only ever going to be a ball pool for one. I considered inviting a 'friend' round for some, er, fun, but the lack of traction the balls afforded, and their general whiff, left much to be desired in the desire department.
In the end, it was just me, my laptop, and many, many cups of coffee. And it was quite delightful. Being a goddamn adult is the best.
It was around lunchtime that my estate agent called to see if they could show someone the flat (I'm moving out next month). Cue heart attack.
"Sorry, no, the flat is full of balls right now!" I shouted down the phone. "Lol jk, it's just I'm working from home and I'd prefer not to be disturbed.
"That ball thing was definitely both a lie and a joke. A loke. A like, even! Lol."
They rearranged the viewing, but despite mild panic about the potential loss of my deposit, it would have been funny if they'd turned up to show someone round.
I imagine they'd have taken one look at a grown human man floating in a pool of 7,000 brightly coloured plastic balls and immediately said: "I'll take it."
Leave plenty of time to put away your balls.
Packing them away was, to say the least, a ball ache. While it took only minutes to spread them all over the flat, it took two hours to wrangle them back into their bags. Thankfully the rental place provided a handy ball bucket to expedite the process.
Would I recommend turning your flat into a ball pool? Absolutely not.
Make no mistake, having a ball pool flat for the day was a terrible idea, just in terms of cost and logistics and practicality. And therein lay its glory.
The true benefit of being an otherwise unattached grown human man is that there is no one around to tell you your idea is stupid, and not to do it. So don't let me stop you.
A day later, my back is killing me, my shoulders ache, and I have blisters from dragging ball bags up and down stairs. But for one day I lived my dream – albeit a dream that smelled of disinfectant and polyurethane. It was beautiful.
So here's to adulthood and to all the silliness that entails. May your follies be grand and your balls plentiful.