Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ikea

We spent most of today with our friends Ian and Jem. They’re the couple who made London their home because draconian homophobic laws in their own countries (the USA and Australia respectively) made it impossible for them to live together legally anywhere else. There are many things that frustrate me about this country, but we lead the English-speaking world when it comes to basic human rights. Thank God Ian’s mother is British...
They were buying furniture for their lovely new flat in Friern Barnet, so we took them to an Ikea, somewhere East of London on the North Circular. It’s very important, when heading to an Ikea on a Sunday, to do lots of deep breathing exercises before you leave the house. The experience can be a bit like being thrown into a sheep dip. You get herded through the building into ever-decreasing spaces. Periodically a flock of lambs trips you over and a grumpy shepherd prods you in the back because you’re not moving quickly enough. There were an astonishing number of lambs running, unchaperoned, around the building. Two particularly fluffy ones were having a terrible fight with two soft toys, which was quite amusing until it turned into a major turf war and hair started flying...

I don’t really like Ikea. You have to pay quite good money to find anything decent in there, and there’s a hell of a lot of cheap crap knocking about; lamps made out of strands of paper, uncomfortable-looking sofas hanging off dangerous metal frames, storage solutions which fall apart as soon as you put something inside. Everything in the place has been stuck down with glue, or screwed into the floor to stop potential thieves. The whole place smells of Swedish meatballs and the staff members don’t seem to give a damn about anyone.
350 years ago, and Pepys went with Elizabeth to the painter’s studio to have her portrait altered – for about the 400th time. They stayed there until late, and Pepys was pleased with the results (as he usually was until he showed the work to a more discerning eye.) He decided that the painter, Mr Savill, was an honest man but “silly” to the point of distraction when it came to the concept of shadows... which begs the question, why commission a painter based on his previous work, if you think he’s not very good? Maybe he was cheap...

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