Frankly, I’m flatpacked out. I’ve reached that stage in my life when my home is more enhanced by getting rid of items of furniture rather than acquiring new ones. And I certainly never want to see another Allan key.
But this doesn’t mean my passion for IKEA is abating. These days my visits target the little bits and pieces that fit easily into my Ford Ka – and chief among those just now is the Ikea artificial flower.
An INSET day provides the perfect excuse provides the perfect excuse for my daughter Laura (8) and I to mount an assault on IKEA. Using her new-found map-reading skills, honed in this term’s topic on “The Awesome Outdoors”, Laura leads off round the store. She is trailing one of of their small new yellow trolleys designed to hold an IKEA yellow bag once it gets too full of stuff to carry without crippling yourself.
My main prey today will be some fake plants to create an indoor window box effect on the shelf behind the piano and whatever fake flowers are currently in season. (In season? What am I saying?!) Since we acquired them on our previous trip, long-stemmed sunflowers have been blazing in our bay window as if basking in Provencal sunshine. Even though I know they’re fake, they’ve lifted my spirits through the recent foggy days.
Peering from the top of Laura’s yellow bag is another device of clever artifice: Lulu, her spookily lifelik toy cat. Whever we allow her the luxury of batteries, she purrs and makes subtle little feline moves. She seems an appropriate toy to have brought with us to the land of IKEA make-believe. Lulu is so lifelike that I sometimes place her in public view in our front room, on the windowsill or sofa, to deter burglars. I am surprised that no member of staff (sorry, co-worker) requests we remove her from the store. Nor does any mad old lady reproach us for animal cruelty. (I was once scolded by a stranger for leaving Laura’ lifelike, lifesize toy collie dog in a hot car.)
Our mission is successful: as a harbinger of plastic spirng, IKEA is serving up a new stock of gorgeous white daisy-like feverfew floers and long-stemmed golden buttercups. I scoop a dozen stems into the yellow bag, where Lulu is now reposing on a flowery fleece blanket (new, £9.99).
Decanting the flowers later into my grandmother’s old green pressed-glass vase on my kitchen table, I’m uplifted every time I pass them by. They may not be real spring flowers, but they’re putting a spring in my step.
Psychological research has proven that artificial plants in an office setting have as much benefit as real ones on workers’ well-being. Naff placebos they may be, but placebos work, and that’s good enough for me. Happy plastic Spring Equinox, everyone.
(What are your naff pleasures in life? I think we should be told!)
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