I like to think that people are generally polite and well meaning. If I mention my writerly endeavours to friends, casual acquaintances or (more likely) elderly relatives still agog with the concept of the internet, most at least manage to feign interest. “How’s the Blog going?” they will ask with the disinterest and sincerity of a trainee at Burger King telling me to “have a nice day”. At this point I fear I get a little frosty. “It isn’t a blog. It’s a satirical website,” I say through gritted teeth.
“That’s nice dear,” they murmur, before asking why I still haven’t got a girlfriend yet.
You want a Blog? THIS is a Blog. Go and annoy Tyler Brown and stop wasting my time.
Still, I suppose it’s fair to say that this humble website occasionally offers tantalising snippets of real life. Normally, mine is far too dull an existence to burden on others – and it’s also very hard to write about oneself without sounding either smug or pathetically full of self-loathing. It’s far easier to pretend you are John Prescott and be done with it.
After this, I promise to give up on blogging with good grace and move back to celebrity satire where life’s a lot more comfy.
I’ve just bought a flat so naturally I have an issue with Ikea. Nothing ground-breaking there, I grant you. This is a rites of passage thing:
• Buy property
• Become awash with pride, excitement and anticipation at the prospect of furnishing said property
• Go to Ikea
• Try to collate your purchases in shop floor area
• Consider suicide
• Pull yourself together and, with Herculean effort, get stuff back to the flat
• Try to assemble furniture
• Actually attempt suicide by thrusting rusty screwdriver repeatedly into own eye
• Give up and go to pub
Oh that Scandinavian hell-hole. Oh that malevolent warehouse of cold, characterless pine and cardboard boxes. Ikea has left me so dribblingly miserable and conscious of my home-owning shortcomings, that I feel obliged to share my experiences if only to help other poor wretches and achieve some level of glum catharsis.
Wardrobe: Don't bother
It started one Friday. I entered Croydon with unbridled and frankly misplaced optimism. But Ikea quickly established itself as the kind of place that will never appeal to me no matter how choc-full I am with subsidised meatballs.
It’s really only a wardrobe I’m after, but the sheer unpleasantness of it all, and the panic that I may one day have to return there, prompts me into a couple of subsidiary impulse buys just to make sure I’ve got everything. Actually quite a good marketing ploy, if you think about it.
They give their wardrobes exciting Nordic names like Pax Nexus – evocative of a Viking warlord hopping on a long-boat and beating the hell out of the Scots. It stands proud and tall in the showroom – sleek yet reasonably priced. “I must have this,” I think – eager to cut and run.
What they don’t tell you is that the parts for the Pax Nexus are sprawled across seven different aisles in a flat-pack depository the size of, well, Sweden. “Surely it would be easier to put all the bits in one box,” I ask the surly attendant.
“Don’t work like that,” he growls – accent more Streatham than Stockholm. “Custom-made, innit?”
I bow to your superior knowledge, sir.
Only six of the seven parts are in stock. I’m missing a shelf and a large percentage of my sense of humour. I can live without a shelf, can’t I? Besides, daylight is streaming through the windows on the other side of the check-out and I can sniff freedom.
Of course it’s not that simple. The 210cm sides simply do not fit in the 208cm space provided by my mother’s SEAT Leon leaving delivery the only option. Another thirty quid and more waiting around while removal men lug Pax Nexus raw material up two flights of stairs. In hindsight I would have paid them two hundred pounds to put the frigging thing together for me – three hundred if they’d had a crack at the coffee table too.
But no. I’m still in that gloaty, testosterone-fuelled DIY honeymoon period – “Thankyou for your donkey-work, gentlemen – I think I can take it from here.”
The packages sit forlornly in my bedroom for a week awaiting my attention. They don’t look much like a wardrobe.
I’m telling you now – it’s probably easier to build a house from scratch than put together a Pax Nexus.
The first thing I notice is that the bit of wood in front of me doesn’t look like it does in the picture. This is a problem. I appear to be missing some holes.
After some swearing and a few petulant tears, I resolve to cut them myself with the hammer and the hole-making thingy from my new tool-box. I get a fleeting feeling of self-worth – “That’s right, everyone – look at me now: I actually own a tool-box.” It’s the kind of ridiculous ego-trip that might move me to one day buy a Strimmer even though I live in a second floor flat and don’t have a garden.
It was a hollow victory. I later bled on the draws and sweated on my new bedroom carpet. I threw out my shoulder trying to hoik the thing into the correct alcove and almost certainly fractured a metatarsal kicking the stubborn base into some kind of right-angle.
Then I opened the final package and discovered I only had one door.
And now the wretched thing – this 21st Century miracle of engineering and understated elegance - is standing there open and mocking.
A dilemma: Do I fill the wardrobe anyway and explain away the missing door as a post-modern example of open-plan living? I think probably not – because this would provide visitors to my bedroom with two undeniable truths:
1/ My carpentry skills are minimal
2/ I have rubbish clothes
The only option seems to be a return to that hateful Croydon cack-pit, and frankly, at the moment, I would rather wrench out my teeth with the pliers from my tool-box.
Of course, the Xenophobe in me blames the Swedes. I haven’t the strength to put into words my feelings of contempt for Sven Goran Eriksson, and Ulrika Johnsson epitomises everything that’s bad about Britain with her loose morals and hypocritical preaching (oh how I wish she had never graduated from that luurrrvvvvely weathergirl on TVAM to the scrawny, screechy bint she is today.)
And I can recall a horrible bar in Gran Canaria called Scandic where the Swedish girls were all impossibly good-looking and polite – AND ALL BLOODY WELL IGNORED ME!
I’m clutching at straws now, but until my wardrobe is two-doored and fully-functional, I’ll be envisaging fiery deaths for Bjorn Borg and Benny out of Abba.
I suppose I’m willing to compromise…
Addendum: The wardrobe now has two doors. It doesn’t have any handles, but it has two doors. I also have three lamp shades that don’t fit on my lights and no sofa. The weird thing is – everyone says I look like Phil out of Location, Location, Location. I suspect he would rather die than be aesthetically associated with a home design no-mark like me – the big, fey handsome devil.