Ikea: Land of dreams... and flat pack furniture
So, I grew up on a tiny island an island on which you could buy pretty much nothing apart from island themed things, which, living on the island itself kind of lost their novelty. There was a single homeware/hardware shop which sold paints, brooms and those weird clippy cloppy shoes all 4 year old girls love. Everything in there was filled with a thin layer of dust and it always had that faint smell of death, well, that’s not entirely true but I felt needed jazzing up a little. In short it was shit. Once or twice a year we would pack up, helicopter it out and take a trip to the “mainland”. This would mean many exciting things: Firstly, we would be able to have our one Macdonalds of the year, usually at Exeter service station in case you were wondering, we’d get to go to the cinema and, most importantly, we’d get to go to Ikea.
You see most people’s family outings involve going to the zoo, the beach, or maybe Lego-land if you were really lucky. But, if you spend 341 days of every year on an island that is just a mile by a mile and a half wide when you finally escape for those 14 days of normality you have to try and fit everything in at once. Cue a brain haemorrhage from my parents and a to do list longer than the great wall of China. 1. Buy all clothes for the following four seasons – not easy and the reason most islanders will tout for their inability to dress (I make no comment on this which in itself is comment enough) 2. See all relatives, new babies, dying aunts, long lost cousins and document with photos. 3. Replace all the lampshades in the house.
Now as you can see number 3 is by far the most important, I mean you’ve got to have lampshades haven’t you? This is where Ikea comes in. Ikea is great, I mean first of all it’s Swedish and who doesn’t love Swedish shit? Blonde girls, um blonde girls and flat pack furniture, the Swedes are all over that. Of course for a six year old female going to shop for a lampshade the girls don’t factor so much but they’re always worth a mention. Also noticeably there are never that many Swedish people in Ikea but that is besides the point. Also noticeably the people who shop in Ikea can be a bit fat and smelly but again, this is besides the point.
The trip would always start early in the morning. Let’s say 9. We’d be bundled off the mattresses of whichever poor relatives floor we were sleeping on and into the car. Two hours later, probably less but when you’re a kid all car journeys take an eternity and to be honest two hours sounds better than 2 minutes, that’s building up tension that is, anyway two hours later and you're there. Basically, it’s huge, it’s the shop to end all shops. At 4ft4 or however tall children are it’s at least 67,003,389,930 times bigger than you (numbers may not be accurate). As you pull up it shines out in front of you in all it’s blue and yellow glory like a giant lego piece, a beacon of furniture fabulousness.
And then you’re in. Each bit of the store is like a modern day Narnia straight through the flat pack 6-piece wardrobe. You wander, mouth open, the bedrooms are set up just like proper bed rooms yet with these ones it’s not your job to clean them up. You can get into the beds, granted this is a bit weird, especially because you can guarantee that 100 other children have done this before you and they might have nits, but fuck it, you’re six, you don’t give a damn. There are big arrows on the floor to guide you, kind of like in the Wizard of Oz except for at the end of this road there is just a big pile of sofas rather than a man pretending to be a wizard, some might argue this isn’t quite as good, they’d probably be right. Every shop has to have its failings I guess.
You pocket several of the miniature pencils on your way around, this is great you think, they’re just like normal pencils, but smaller. Two weeks later you find one of them has pierced the inside of the washing machine, you blame your little brother and he’s banned from the next shopping trip. You’d feel guilty but your new found love for all things flat pack and plastic negates your ability to care. You hear a familiar sound reminiscent of that time you put your cat in the microwave, it’s your mother. She’s screaming. “Put that fucking desk tidy down”, “No you don’t need another rug just get over here and help me pick out a colander”. Your six year old self is confused you’re surrounded by all these magical things and she’s dragging you around like there’s no tomorrow. You know you were never going to actually buy anything, you’re lucky if your pocket money stretches to a Mars Bar, but you sure as hell want a chance to touch them. Besides you don’t even know what a fucking desk tidy is.
And then it’s all over. You’re sat in the cafe eating reasonably priced meatballs. There’s an air of sadness about the table, it could be because you smashed some shit in the vase aisle and now your Mother is £50 down from her original lampshade budget, it could be because you know the best day of your life is coming to an end. Sure you’ll be back next year, and probably the year after, but how long before people start to call you out on your bed bouncing, before the craggy shop assistant on floor four tells you “No those cupboards are not for hide and seek”. Not long, that’s what I’ll tell you. I’m 22 and all of these games now seem to be off bounds even swinging on the make shift banister rails is frowned upon. So ladies and gentleman I urge you, if you have children take them for the greatest day out now before it’s too late and if you don’t have children borrow some. When I say borrow I mean from your friends taking them from the street, no matter how desperate you are, will only cause you trouble.