Those from the City course who’ve carried on with the monthly workshopping read an extract of mine in the last session where James is struggling to build an IKEA wardrobe.
The piece is intended to cast light on the state of James and Emma’s relationship — both by using the wardrobe as metaphor and also flashing back to his recollections of their trip to the Milton Keynes branch (the new city being somewhere that Emma instinctively detests as she doesn’t like its appropriate of the Celtic mysticism that she has a great interest in herself.)
IKEA also reflects James’s fairly half-hearted attempt at fiscal belt-tightening — he tried to persuade Emma to buy a wardrobe that was a cheap piece of MDF crap but instead they settle for something fairly decent made out of solid wood (that nearly kills him to lug upstairs) — but it’s still not the Heal’s wardrobe she really wanted (see post below — ‘A Solid Piece of Research‘).
I did a bit of quick research in Milton Keynes IKEA after I visited the nearby Open University a few weeks ago but this week I had cause to go there again for the purposes of actually thinking about buying some of their furniture.
I took a few photos on the way round. Here’s a montage of a few — showing the curious juxtaposition of the nicely-staged rooms upstairs compared to the functional warehouses where you have to get the flat-pack stuff.
The bizarre names of IKEA furniture are staple jokes — see Dave the Laptop Table and Gilbert the furry brown placemat above.
However, I noticed a floor protector thing with one of the most bizarre names. As it’s a medical term I think the word spelled with a ‘c’ must be the same in Swedish.
I also thought it quite surreal that customers were greeted on entering the showroom with a crateful of furry-rats.
I had another opportunity to inspect the wardrobe that I had in mind for James to build for Emma. In the novel it’s not exactly like this one — I think it may have its drawers inside the doors — but it’s fairly similar.
It’s pictured here in a trendy looking bedroom that Emma may not even have turned up her nose at.
In the end, I had my own cardboard megalith experience as the furniture that I wanted to buy (including two wardrobes as luck would have it) was in such huge cardboard packages that they wouldn’t have fitted in the car.
In fact, probably they were so heavy (two boxes weighing about 50kg for each wardrobe) that perhaps the easiest way to have got them home might have been to put them on rafts and float them down the Grand Union Canal — in the same way as Stonehenge’s builders transported their rectangular megaliths all the way from Wales?
(And perhaps it might make Emma feel better to know that I bumped into the Minister for Europe’s wife in the IKEA cafÃ© and said hello — if it’s good enough for ministers of state? Or maybe they’re being mindful of expenses?)