IKEA dearest, excitement as your latest tome plopped into my letterbox with the all the promise of how shiny, organised and streamlined my life would be if I married my dollars to your flat-pack.
Ah dearest one, I enter your hallowed halls with expectations and delight, with wonderment in your innovations and pleasure in your primary colours.
Seven hours later, I emerged with the truth from the 'Seventh Circle of Hell' you call a store, the veil of infatuation torn from my eyes; having been funnelled like a drugged lemming through your maze-like halls amidst aisles of numbered items and towers of indecipherably coded boxes.
I had entered your portals with so much trust and hope, with a hankering for a small hook that could change my life for the better once installed in my entry foyer, but cunning torturer that you are, you brainwashed me into believing that if I filled my conveniently provided plastic shopping bag - the size of a small elephant - with paper napkins, two cushions, some plastic cups and a fluoro item (its origins of which, and purpose I am yet to determine), you would release me from your clutches and allow me to return to the bosom of my family - battle scarred and lighter of wallet - but free.
But it was all only a cruel promise – first you had one remaining ignominy for me to endure – the Checkout Counters of Hades. Other bleary eyed devotees queued like branded sheep, some pushing trolleys, others leading drooling male spouses by the hand – parched, natural light deprived, and utterly disoriented as to geographical direction, oh, but it was the tiny children I pitied the most – exhausted and fractious, I watched as harried mothers dug in the bottoms of handbags searching for a lint covered ancient mint to assuage the infants screams of pain – their begging for home and un-recycled air the most poignant of your victims. We shuffled towards the magic machines that would agree to take our money, we prayed for the holy zappers to accept the barcode release numbers for each and every item that we proffered on the counter of Swedish domination and design excellence, and we held our collective breath awaiting the denuding of our bank accounts and credit cards like impatient inmates of a gulag tantalised with freedom.
And as we stumbled towards our vehicles with our totems of modernity safely stowed in our newly purchased, but utterly un-recyclable plastic enviro bags, our eyes glimpsed your newest acolytes as they entered your siren portals, light of step and full of hope for the better life you promise and the thrill of globalisation. How we pity them. “Schmucks” we observe under our breath, “never again”, we mutter as we climb into our cars to claim the sanctuary of home. At least not until we need the next cunning storage solution proffered in your 2011 catalogue.