Colm O'Regan: An IKEA expedition when you are filling an empty house is the toughest

Before you know it, you’re asking ‘how are we for tea-lights?’ and you’re horsing the candle-slabs into the trolley.
Colm O'Regan: An IKEA expedition when you are filling an empty house is the toughest

We went to IKEA for the shade. Not a lampshade, just an absence of ultraviolet light. I’ve never had an IKEA trip like it. Just going to get in out of the heat.

We were at the Coping Stage of the Heatwave by this time. This is where the euphoria has passed. The realisation had set in that it was here for a while and we do not need to rotisserie ourselves. And the further awareness that 30-degree heat might be a bad thing if you’re trying to work or mind children -as opposed to lying back and sending photos of your feet and bottles of San Miguel from your holidays in Santa Del Espagna to the lads in the WhatsApp. Heatwaves are like visitors. You realise your house isn’t set up for them and you get your fill pretty quick. And the heatwave might be part of climate change -the kind of visitor who arrives in the middle of The Soaps and shows no sign of leaving ever.

It wasn’t always about leisure trips for air conditioning.

We started out rough. We first went to the one in Belfast in 2008 with a long list, hopes and dreams and an agreement that we would try to still be a couple by the time we got out. An IKEA expedition when you are filling an empty house is the toughest. Every single object -once small enough- is a possibility. We had one run through and came out with a spatula so we had to go through again and actually decide on things.

We drew comfort from The Five. The Poang cantilever armchair (45 years old this year), the Bekvam stepper, the Billy bookcase, the Hemnes beds and the Expedit. They gave us a bit of confidence to not to break up in the frames section.

That was then. Over time, the IKEA stress levels have declined in a sort of half-life curve. The fears of getting the wrong thing, that it won’t fit in the boot, that there will be ‘scope-drift’ and we’ll end up with more frames, have ebbed. (Not framing anyone here but let’s just say of the two of us, I do not have as strong an urge to buy frames. But on the other hand, if it were left up to me, our house would still only have a spatula in it.)

I have been able to step back from the experience and ask questions like Where do they get their names from? Since you asked, Poang means point in Swedish, Bekvam means comfort, Billy is a fella’s name who used to work there. Hemnes is a town in Norway. (All the bedroom stuff is Norwegian towns) and the Expedit is Swedish for shopkeeper. There is a pattern in case you think they’re just words made up.

And now we are in IKEA for somewhere to go in the heat of the day. Like cows swishing our tails in the shade of a ditch.

Mind you we still managed to fill a trolley. IKEA rarely lets you leave without getting something. You just see so many bijou apartment set ups with knacky things that your willpower leaks. Fatally distracted and lured by the thought of meatballs and bad ketchup in a takeaway bag. Before you know it, you’re asking ‘how are we for tea-lights?’ and you’re horsing the candle-slabs into the trolley.

By the time we have come out, the heatwave is boiling the kettle and shows no signs of leaving. We’re no better set up for hot weather.

But at least, with our two new pillows and a potato peeler, and, we’re a bit more ready for visitors.

 

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