Flat Pack, with a Chance of Meatballs…


  IT’S official.  I am no longer an IKEA virgin.  Never again will I be able to smugly say, “Never been there.  Not even looked on their website.  What do they sell again?”  The demands of new house and restrictions of a lean bank balance have combined to make the lure of flat-pack furniture, along with a partner who can’t wait to build things too much to resist.  I have succumbed, and worse than that, I have eaten their meat-balls…

  On a wet, dark Friday night after work we navigated our way onto what can only be described as the small continent that makes up Wembley IKEA.  Even the Sat Nav sees the car park as some sort of mini-state, directing us right, left and around roundabouts for a full five minutes before we are close enough to the store to actually park and make our way into the hanger of delights.

  Clutching our industrial sized yellow bag, Billy Burch shopping list and willful trolley we follow the grey pathway, paper measuring tape flapping in our wake as we trace the illuminated arrows guiding us like sheep into the heart of the shop.  What do they do if you ignore the imposed direction of travel I wonder?  If you go rogue and insist on doing IKEA backwards?  Before I can find out, my boyfriend had spotted the desk section and was off.  We weave through fake room after fake room – Sofa World; Office Zone; Bed Land – if I worked here I’d be tempted to save on rent and commuting time and live on the shop floor.

  While most adults we saw looked dead eyed and exhausted, trollies full of soft-furnishings and an obligatory pot-plant, the accompanying kids were ecstatic.  No bored, “Mu-um, why have you brought us here” faces, this shopping trip was the chance to play in an adult sized dolls-house with beds and sofas and toys, and minus the irritation of walls and doors!  Yellow clad staff looked on as children ran, jumped and whizzed around in delight.  Forget the trials of flat pack, this was the best playground ever – cat-nip for kids.

  On finding the desk we were after (big, brown and woody – my description rather than the official catalogue title), and faffing around with measurements, material type and colour of legs we fill out our list with a mini pencil, and then, as if in an Argos on steroids spend the next 20 minutes trooping cross-country to the check out and collection area.  Only once do we try to subvert the grey-brick road and trick the IKEA one-way system, but fearing some sort of super-sized version of Snakes and Ladders, with the possibility that the short-cut will lead us back to the start makes us turn back, abide by the arrows and return to the official path.  The risk is too great, if we go round again we could end up with a sofa, a GODMORGON bathroom and God knows what else…

  Finally making it to the tills and handing over our cash we congratulated ourselves on making it through, with only an additional pack of funky coloured napkins and a bag of frozen meat-balls purchased along with the required desk.  Once into the van and on our way out of London the otherworldly retail experience doesn't seem so bad.


  Now safely home and hefted up the stairs, the flat pack desk has been given a week of respite before its erection.  The need for Allen keys, mental dexterity and the ability to read instructions has forced us to leave until next weekend.  We need to be fresh and build up our strength for this level of challenge.  We will also have to work on a positive mental attitude and good humour for the construction.  There’s an urban myth that IKEA means argument in Swedish, and I feel, a little like Scandi drama and tasty meat-balls, the obligatory furniture building row will be a Nordic tradition we will grasp with ease…

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