10 things not to do when you go to IKEA


- Credit: PA

We can all speculate until our minds are spinning vortexes of Scandinavian furniture names, meatballs, tiny pencils and pointless rows with our loved ones about whether we can fit another bookcase into the front room: no one knows the precise format of the new IKEA store in Norwich, so we need to be prepared for the worst.

Regular IKEA stores are the size of Cringleford, ours has to fit on an industrial park the size of a school netball pitch.

So here are my ten things not to do when you go to IKEA:

1) Do not go to IKEA with your partner.

I cannot stress this strongly enough. At a push, you can go to IKEA with a friend, although they will inevitably take more/less time than you'd like in the store and it will lead to a degree of bitterness which far outweighs their crime.

But going with your partner is asking for trouble – one of you will have claimed the trip will be swift and painless, the other will be furious when it turns out to be neither. By the time you've reached the area where there are endless rooms made up to show you how truly happy couples live, with coordinated throws and cushions, you will have realised that your entire relationship is a sham. He doesn't understand the need for the Knutstorp in the conservatory, she can't accept that the house is already full of Fyrkantigs.

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Let's call the whole thing off.

2) Do not go to IKEA on a Saturday. Ever.

3) Don't try and outwit the one-way system.

You may think you're clever, you may have tried your hand at orienteering when you were at Scouts, you may be Bear Grylls – you are no match for the Swedish mind wizards who have devised the floor plan of IKEA.

There is no way you are going to avoid walking past the home office section or the bit that looks like the foyer of a warehouse where there are endless rolls of wrapping paper.

You are trapped in a flatpack matrix. There will be times when you genuinely believe you are never getting out of this hell, times when death seems like a preferable option. Walk towards the light(ing section)

4) Do not mention on social media the fact that you are planning a visit to IKEA, or that you are thinking of visiting IKEA or that you might one day possibly go to IKEA in the deep, distant future. Within a nanosecond, the internet will have reared on its hind legs, swivelled to face you and produced long lists of items which look as if the alphabet has vomited over a page. You will be expected to find the items in the Swedish maze, walk them nine miles around the store in a cart, queue to pay for them, pay for them WITH YOUR MONEY and then deliver them to the person who wants them, who will say 'can I get you the cash next week?'

5) Do not try and balance a vegetarian hot dog on top of your shopping while you make a quick phone call. Trust me on this one.

6) Do not write a light-hearted opinion piece about IKEA in which you jokingly say that everyone should personally thank you for having enticed the Swedish flatpack giants to Norfolk by virtue of the fact you filled in a few comment cards over several years.

People will assume you genuinely believe this to be a fact and will bombard you on Twitter, Facebook, in online comments and by email to send you messages saying things like 'You are so #fullofyourself' and 'I have also made the journey to Thurrock many a time and always thought how convenient it would be to have one closer to home, however I would never big myself up and proclaim that I was the sole person to actually see this happen' and 'of all the things you could campaign for, especially with the power of the media at your fingertips…' Like oil and water, satire and IKEA do not mix.

7) Do not think you can 'just pop in' to IKEA. This is like saying you are 'slightly pregnant' or 'a bit dead'.

8) Do not tell someone who has never visited IKEA about the queuing system at the end, or the lack of helpful assistants, or the fact that any piece of furniture you buy will be stuffed into an oversized pizza box, weigh more than house bricks made of osmium and iridium (CHEMISTRY KLAXON) and involve construction with an Allen key made of cesium (CHEMISTRY KLAXON).

These are facts that must be learned through experience, a bit like losing your virginity or learning how to reverse park.

9) Do not think you have the inner strength needed to walk past the Glimma tealights. It doesn't matter that you have six bags of them in a cupboard – like hairdressers and undertakers, they will always be useful.

10) Do not forget the piece of paper which has all the vital statistics that you need: in order to shop like a Swede, you have to measure like a Swede and then remember your list like a Swede – it might also help if you wear one of those jumpers they like from The Killing (yes, I know The Killing was Danish. Don't split Scandinavian hairs). Accept now that for every item on your list that you need, you will buy 12 that you don't need. How do you avoid this? I've no IKEA.