IKEA BAD MOON RISING

We have been out and about a little during the three weeks since my last post, including a trip to the nearest IKEA so that I could roll the contents of my wallet up into a ball and hurl it into a till. As a side consequence we were also able to stock up on new household and baby stuff.

I always – always – begin a trip to IKEA in optimistic frame of mind. And I always end it slightly harassed by the number of people who have indulged in free-form jazz movement or wanton interpretive consumer dance around the store. And a tad dismayed by the hit my bank balance has taken. You think it’s the £82-er that killed you – but those £7 bargains and £27 essentials really add up, don’t they?

When I was a child I loved stationery shops. I loved the piles of pencils and the never-ending displays of softback and hardback notebooks. I loved binders and rulers and rubbers and biros. I loved the distilled smell of the forest carried by the towers of reams of paper and card.

I was deeply impressed by any large accumulation of these seemingly mundane things. I think some of that sense of wonder has carried over into adult life, and since I was a teenager I have been getting more-or-less the same kick in record shops (though the contents of those are hardly ever mundane).

There has been residue available for domestic life, too, as that pleasurable feeling has also spilled over into any IKEA time.

Mooching around the baby section on this most recent visit, a display of LOCKIG really attracted me. I did consider, though, that whoever is paid to devise the names for IKEA products truly ‘bottled it’ by only nearly coming up with LOG-something for the potty. Close, but no cigar…

I do really like IKEA.

The fact that there are relatively inexpensive storage options or clever little ‘life hacks’ readily available really appeals to the part of my brain which longs for organisation and neatness and efficiency. What would probably be described as the semi-autistic part. Tweaks and solutions to make home life better satisfy me greatly.

Though it was not actually from IKEA, a lazy susan I recently bought for the sauce bottles and pickle jars on one of the shelves in our new fridge regularly makes me nod in weeping appreciation of its simple cleverness and for the way it has elevated my quality of life.

I like what seems to be the Swedish aesthetic, and the Scandinavian way of considering design and form and function and how they should be employed to serve us. Though I am probably wrong, I applaud my assumption that Scandinavians deliberately work on these fixes so that the seconds-per-day saved up can snowball into a great wadge of time better spent in wintry brooding, existential musing and staring off into the middle distance thinking about Agnetha.

This latest trip to IKEA resulted in a reasonable yield.

Some floor-to-ceiling shelving for the dining room, so that we can move our books and plants and other stuff up, creating space lower down for toys and so on. A baby bath and other plastic accessories – though a friend recently told me she only once engaged with ‘the faff’ of the baby bath she had bought, and soon opted for the bathroom sink instead. At least I presume she said bath, and not potty. Plus a couple of bags of meatballs.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of this recent IKEA visit was that, after keeping her powder dry for months, my wife played the pregnancy card for the very first time.

After we’d loaded up my car with our three hundred quid’s worth of purchases, she realised she needed to pee. I nearly had at the till, when the total came in. But that’s a digression. Making our way back to the entrance of the store, we were dismayed to see that the queue to get in now stretched around the car park. It looked like, in my estimation, a forty-five minute wait so I told her an hour.

Initially in a slight flap about it, my wife followed my twin suggestions to i) calm down, and ii) ask a member of staff whether she could jump the queue and use the loo. Of course, it is now the 21st-century and civilised behaviour has even reached us up here in the north of England, so the member of staff could not have been more helpful.

It did seem to take a slightly dramatic turn, though.

Into his walkie-talkie: “Security, Door One to control. All units… Stand down and stand back! Pregnant lady coming through. She needs a piss. I repeat, a piss. P for panda, i for IKEA, SS for Hitler. Over…” and he marched my wife straight through the ‘special door’, with his arm up to shield her from the coronavirus being spat out by the hoard of baying peasants in the queue. “Leave off, you rotten beasts”…

I waited in the car. When she returned to it, ten or so minutes later, I told her that I think her pregnancy is a superpower.

When I really think about it, though, and think about how her body is changing daily and how she copes with that and with the accompanying mental and emotional shifts and demands with customary great fortitude and earnestness, I realise it is just one of many.