Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ikea & Tim Turner

Went to my pal TT's book launch last night. Very well attended it was too and people were snapping it up. Over there on the left is the link to First Time I Met The Blues, about a young blues band in Sixties London - or is it Watford. It's right up my street and probably yours too, so do go out and buy it.

So I've got the day off tomorrow and I've decided I can't put it off any longer. I've got to go to Ikea.

That's really not very exciting anymore is it? 'When was it ever?', they chorused, but believe you me when I bought my first flat in 1990 - and what a nightmare that turned out to be - it was the most exciting thing in town as far as furniture went.

Everyone was talking about it. No one knew how to say it. I had boss who pronounced it Icky-a, but then she said 'loggo' for logo and 'pitsa' for pizza so no one took any notice of her. But now we all know how to say it and it's as familiar as John Lewis or Stead & Simpson.

Yes, it was new, it was a superstore, it was Swedish! I didn't even own a car then, so had to get a friend to take me. As we neared Neasden we could hardly contain ourselves. Going round those room sets I had visions of living a Wallander-like existence (before Wallander was invented, but you know, Scandinavian cosy). We got chairs, tables, rugs, ordered a sofa in a very 1990 pattern (think Shaun Ryder wearing one of those rave hoodies in an Aztec-like print), got plants, cutlery, a laundry basket - you name it, we got it. Of course we stopped for meatballs, gravy and chips. No visit to Ikea can be had without lunch. I'm planning on that tomorrow.

Of course once you get it home, fall out over the construction of the flatpacks, lose the Allen keys and wait 10 weeks for your sofa to arrive only for the cushions to be the wrong size you realise those room sets are a shocking lie: the living room of your your groovy Victorian mansion block flat does not resemble a groovy Stockholm mews flat, but rather one of the more boring houses from Neighbours c.1986.

Then, as now, there really is some ghastly stuff there. Although perhaps I'm being harsh. That picture looks quite nice. But i fear it's smoke and mirrors. If I tried that at home the place would look like a branch of Wickes.We all got swept along on a wave of Swedish excitement before we came crashing down to earth and the hoi polloi got wind of it. A bit like Come Dine With Me, when the secret's out, it's no longer attractive.

So now going to Ikea is not a pleasure, but a chore that must be tackeld. It's a nice trip to Croydon if you want to play loud music in the car and sing along at the op of your voice, but it's only really good for lighting and tumblers. I'm on the lookout for blinds in that marketplace bit. I don't bother to go round the room sets now, it's too upsetting.

And I might even get to spot Judi Dench.


Chris Hughes said...

I think that's true of all stores - Habitat have a very seductive 'live like Bjorn Borg' thing going on at the moment, which mainly seems to involve lots of shelving, but you know it's not going to happen.

I don't mind Ikea. You can't beat a Bumerang coathanger.

Matthew Rudd said...

Stephen Bayley, he of Millennium Dome curator semi-fame, pronounced it "Eee-kay-a" on Have I Got News For You and got very loudly laughed at. Yet I believe he was right...

Self-assembly furniture is the devil's work, especially when you have four cats in the house.

Ishouldbeworking said...

They ARE good for lighting and miniature Dime/Daim bars, but I always come away feeling a bit depressed and disappointed. That's quite a Scandinavian thing in itself, I suppose.

Mondo said...

We usually go full of grand ideas and lists. But come home with a bumper bag of tealights and one new cusion..

On new books I'd also recommend Cathi Unsworth's Bad Penny Blues - set in sixties Soho. A real gripper

Anonymous said...

I always imagined you got somebody to do your shopping for you. Another illusion shattered.

TimT said...

Thanks for the plug, and for coming to the launch. Sorry for lifting the lid on your secret blogging life in front of your brother - what with all the beer and the nerves, I wasn’t thinking particularly straight last night.

Anyway, I still like Ikea and I don't care who knows. I was very upset when Mrs T insisted we get rid of our large collection of Billy bookcases a couple of years ago.

Five-Centres said...

Don't worry, my brother will never remember.

Of course I'd love to have my shopping done for me, Anon, but I can't trust anyone else to do it as well as I do it myself.

I've read about that book, Mondo. Must check it out.

Cocktails said...

Is it true though that IKEA is completely over-priced in the UK because there is no decent competition? I've heard that its considered cheap tat in places like er.. the rest of Europe - but have never bothered to verify this.

Five-Centres said...

Well there's Habitat which I think is either owned by Ikea or the other way round.

Cocktails said...

And that's it!

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roym said...

the good thing about ikea is that you can hack it and chuck it away if you make a dogs dinner of it. habitat and heals are just far too expensive.
i just got a simple white melamine tv table. one tin of paint and some new ironmongery later it looks halfway decent