Much driving tends to be routine: schools, works, shops, petrol stations and futile trips to Ikea…
…where you remember why it is you hate the place and never want to come back. I am quite far along with that resolution now. It has taken about 14 years to realise that everything they sell is worse than useless and that even focused purchases such as a child’s desk will end in disappointment (the hole in the top surface for the lamp cable is very annoying).
The Ikea experience is heavily suburban. It relies on a large, cheap expanse of land which is usually a long way from human habitations. This entails a large expanse of carparking. In tandem then there is a bleak desert packed with cars (MPVs, estates, SUVs and never interesting old roadsters) and a massive blue oblong into which one’s soul and life force is sucked.
The interior is designed like an intestine: it is long, sinuous and arranged to present seemingly essential items to tempt you to spend your money: a bright orange toothbrush holder, packets of serviettes for nearly no pence, an armchair for the price of a basket of groceries, all crammed into the windowless world of their display areas. It is a cross between a Guantanamo Bay holding cell and a furniture catalogue.
I resent the long walk from the car to the blue oblong and I resent being treated like an item of food being digested: and we know what that makes you feel like at the end when you are asked to beep your own goods and self-serve on Ikea’s behalf. Nothing in Ikea is free except your labour at the self-serve check-outs.
Ikea have a motto at the moment: room for life. You will not find one single cubic millimetre of space for sale in Ikea but rather things that take up space. The only way to respond to the urge to drive to Ikea is to throw away the things that need to be stored and go for a drive to some other destination instead, like a park, the city centre or your in-laws.
Before starting this I intended to write about a road trip to Chantilly.