So we went to IKEA.
I was unprepared. Quite, quite unprepared. We drove into a landscape like a lunar crater, for this is the Oslo West IKEA, the oldest in the universe, and it is in the process of being rebuilt.
The car park was full. And a quarter of the size it should have been. We circled like hungry ghosts, waiting to pounce on a parking space. At last we found one, and travelled into the Oldest IKEA in the world. And entered a different kind of space.
Walls of sofas. A whole room full of frogs. Baskets full of mysterious little rubbery things in bright colours. A warehouse full of tables with vices along one edge. Towels. Stuff that I just didn’t know what it was.
And other weird things, like little slides for children down the sides of the stairs. Little green plastic eggs you could sit in. And the names. Everything has a name, as everyone knows, but the surrealness of IKEA names is without parallel. I suppose it is possible it all makes perfect sense in Swedish, but somehow I doubt it. To my weakened mind, the names made bizzare puns and and clashed with the objects they were naming, and it was all I could do to not burst out laughing.
And everywhere, people treating this as if it was quite normal. But IKEA does mysterious things to the mind. One of my companions on this visit not only wore a frog on her head, but picked up a chopping board (despite having three already), and said, “we must get this… it’s so thin! We didn’t get it, we managed to resist.
I had the meatballs. They were nice. But the staff serving me all seemed terribly depressed. Then we wandered out into the chaos of the car park with our napkins, frogs and plant pot trays, and drove off into what would be, in a properly run country, the dusk.