Inside, the usual jungle noises were to be heard - the shrill calls of children run wild, the grunts of press-ganged fathers and the occasional "Oh for fuck's sake!" escaping under a woman's breath. And so, girding my loins, my quest began in earnest. I searched the aisles full of GRUNDSPLÅT, perused the selections of ØRZBISSKITs and stealthily negotiated the serried ranks of BAZTAAD bookcases, trying to avoid all the CLINTS. Still no sign of my elusive shelves.
Ikea is a form of torture for the half of the human race for whom shopping is never any kind of therapy. And Ikea's version must run a close second to waterboarding. Oh those fucking fiddly pencils! My, those crappy paper tape measures and what's with those long bloody item codes? You have to know the shortcuts to avoid having to walk through every section but - and here's the rub - the only way to gain that knowledge is to go to the store more often!
Aha! I spy the objects of my desire. So, all I have to do now is take down the number, go to the warehouse and... wait... BORAT is sodding modular! I have to order uprights, brackets and shelves as separate items. And they're stored in separate aisles. I write down the handy twenty-seven-digit Dewey-decimals and set off for the shelves. After four hours I realise I've seen that sofa before; I've been going round in circles; so much for the impromptu short-cuts. I retrace my steps and dutifully follow the arrows this time until I'm rewarded and step through into a wondrous glade of treasures.
My senses are assaulted by the glitter and gleam of a thousand shining things I will never, ever need. My nose picks up the scent of candles - definitely not that way - on, on, past the soap dishes, the champagne flutes and the cutlery that can never work. On past the ridiculous rugs and throws, the knobs and handles and gadgets. Running on empty, my growling stomach warning I may starve here, I finally reach a wide clearing with tall stacks of silent, gloomy shelves. Ikea's very own Mordor.
Aisle 24, location 16. There are my brackets. I need 24 and they are all individually packaged. Bugger I forgot to get a trolley. Five minutes later, aisle 20, location 27 and I have the shelves. Now on to aisle 21. Where is aisle 21? These are all even numbers, what the f... Oh, over there. Aisle 21, location 37... is empty. Nooooooooooo! My cry echoes through the hall... I have to start over.
So, mission accomplished, I finally have all the bits to build my shelves. I have the bits, the space, the time... now, where in hell did I put that drill?