Published March 5, 2011 by Claire

Many of you who’ve visited me over the last couple of years will have heard me say ‘Please ignore the state of the kitchen, it’s a work in progress’. Really, really slow progress that is.

We fitted the first few wall cabinets back in the summer. The summer of 2009! The next step after that was to fit the base cabinets but there was a radiator in the way and as luck would have it, I went through a patch of doctors and dentists as clients just when what I really needed was a plumber 😉

Yes, I know I should have just got the old Yellow Pages out and found a plumber –  but I’m just a weak and feeble female and I was convinced that said plumber would take one look at me, hitch up his jeans and do that sucking-air-over-teeth thing that they do to give themselves a moment to calculate just how much to inflate the quote by.

So for eighteen months we’ve had half a kitchen, and for eighteen months I’ve been telling gents that the mess was only temporary {blush}. Well finally I found a chap who was happy to remove the obtrusive radiator and the next step was to pick up those base cabinets…

…cue one slightly traumatic trip to Ikea.

Now, I loathe and despise Ikea. Not their product range – I like that. Their stuff is well-made, well-designed and frankly bloody well-priced. But their STORES!

In Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, reference is made to a historical inventor/architect by the name of Bergholt Stuttley Johnson – otherwise known as ‘Bloody Stupid Johnson’. I suspect that when employing an architect for the planning of their stores, the people at Ikea found one who channelled  Bloody Stupid Johnson.

For those of you who haven’t ever suffered experienced a trip to this Swedish torture chamber (and I hope for your sakes you are many in number), allow me to explain.

The first issue for me is that once inside, there are no windows. This is a deliberate ploy on the part of the Ikeans (I made that up but I think I like it, it sounds like something from Star Trek) to ensure you don’t notice the passing of time. I have been known to miss meals whilst in Ikea. This is very unusual for me.

On the main shopping level, the goods are displayed in room settings. This means that when you see something you just have to buy – you can’t. Or at least not with any great ease. First you have to admire it. Then you have to hope that the little plastic identifying label is still present, from which you must locate the identifying stock number. Then you have to find a pencil and paper – which Ikea do supply, but they hide them so you have to hunt for them.

Onto this hard-won slip of paper, you must note the item number, and the location, before setting off on a kind of twisted Treasure Hunt to retrieve it. There are several possibilities – your prize may be in the Marketplace, or in the Warehouse  – or even worse, in the ‘Order and Collect’ bit. This is a Bad Thing, having to use ‘Order and Collect’ – because there’s a time delay between ‘O’ and ‘C’, which is frustrating. Or it would be – if you could actually get out of the damn place to head off to the Collection warehouse!

You see, Ikeans don’t walk in straight lines. You can’t go in, walk straight ahead and go out. Oh no. In fact, you can’t even go in, change your mind and turn round to escape. They operate a ‘One Way’ system, denoted by large arrows on the floor, which one must follow trustingly. The arrows are naturally laid out in a route which will march you past every single item that Ikea have to offer, meaning that if you actually manage to leave the store without draining your bank account it’s somewhat of a minor miracle.

Well, I made it out past all the Tupperware without incident ( I’m on a self-induced Tupperware ban, after opening the cupboard and finding myself buried under an avalanche of plastic containers in varying shapes and sizes) and almost got out with only that for which I went in.


I mean, you can’t have a new kitchen without new tea-towels, right?

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