From time to time people will say something like , “You know, life's too short.” I tend to disagree. Too short? Compared to what, exactly? Last time I checked, life was the longest-lasting thing most of us will ever do.
However, I am happy to admit that for some things, my time on this mortal coil is too precious to waste. Pairing socks. Thinking about what to order at Burger King. And the Redditch ring road.
To this list, I'm afraid we must now add Ikea.
I say I'm “afraid,” because deep down I hoped and believed that those friendly Scandinavian storage-pushers and I were going to be friends for life. Me and Anders, just like that. (I'm crossing my index and middle fingers together right now in an analogy of closeness. Trust me.)
I mean, looking at the catalogue, it's all so tempting, isn't it? All those perfectly staged rooms, all that blonde wood and sensibly-tasteful-yet-contemporary stuff? A coffee table called PLING? It just seems to good, so clean, so logical. They should throw in a couple of quotes from LeCorbusier and be done with it. "A house is a machine for living in." For those of us that break into a cold sweat whenever Colin and Justin start shouting at us all about interior design, Ikea must sound like manna from heaven.
There's enough design in the Ikea catalogue to make you feel like you're living in a hovel. You feel bad. Must. Have. PLING. And so the collective backsides of thousands of ashamed homeowners are raised aloft, parting company with sofas up and down the land. You go to the blue and yellow hangars, each dotted in the hinterland of a major city. And then, the horror.
You want your PLING. You've spent an hour getting there; your life won't be complete without it. More perfectly-staged mini-rooms. It's like Nirvana in pine with chrome insets. But no-one notices that they're all doing the St. Vitus' dance, all taking the anti-clockwise path. You can't go back. You only shuffle forwards. Table lamp called MEH? That will do nicely.
Where's my PLING? Hang on, aren't we slowly moving downwards? Is this place shaped like a giant corkscrew, or did they slip mescalin in the meatballs? Ah. Now we appear to be in Homewares. Look, it's all so...reasonable. Get a basket.
No, get a trolley.
Don't forget my PLING. I've now got a lamp called MEH, some table mats going under the name BARF, a KLEFT light fitting. But no PLING as yet. Eventually you're led down a canyon, to pull a dusty box with a line drawing on it, out from a cliff-side of other dusty boxes.
Home again at last. I'd like to say that I've reached that point in my life when self-assembly furniture is a thing of the past. I haven't, though - I'm merely cack-handed. And by all accounts the founders of Ikea formed a pact with the Allen Key Foundation back in the 1950s.
Anyone want a PLING with a pronounced lean to it?