Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Day Out: Shopping at Ikea
I’ll tell you this for free: you just haven’t lived till you’ve visited the Ikea in Thurrock, Essex during school half-term. For those of you not in the know, this is the Ikea located at the (in)famous Lakeside Shopping Centre, a large American-style shopping mall full of the usual retail chains with the requisite disgusting food court and the requisite annoying crowds of shoppers dragging their screaming and bawling children behind them. Lakeside even has a West Ham shop (no surprise, that). Believe it or not, I actually saw a pink tea kettle at a department store in Lakeside. I kid you not. Would you want to drink a cup of tea that came out of a pink kettle? I know I wouldn’t. But plenty of people in Essex do. And no, they aren’t gay men! It’s a Essex girl thing, apparently. (Insert “grimace” emoticon here.)
I had the displeasure of “shopping” at Lakeside once with an ex-boyfriend. Well, I didn’t exactly shop. He only took me there so he could use my wrist to try on watches; he wanted to buy one for his sister’s birthday, and my wrist was daintier than his. I didn’t even get a Starbucks latte out of the gig. Having said that, he did give me his West Ham shirt. I won’t go into that torrid tale; let’s just say that he enjoyed that shirt far more than I did! And if you know anything at all about Essex boys and their single-minded passion for West Ham United… Mind you, I should’ve known the writing was on the wall when he took me to The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker on an Easter Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing more romantic than graphic images of nuclear annihilation when you’re out with your bloke. Let’s just say that THIS wasn’t the fantasy I wrote about in The New Black Lace Book of Women’s Sexual Fantasies (
As for Ikea (umm… that WAS what we were talking about, right?), I’d finally managed to intimidate one of my loftmen into driving me there. (The begging didn’t work.) Well, you’d have thought you were in Disneyland. Talk about cheap entertainment! Seems like everyone had taken the kiddies out for a day of fun and frolic at the local Ikea. The place was bursting with sprogs (rugrats to you Yanks). If I had been maneuvering the shopping trolley instead of my loftman, I’d have run over a few – and no doubt let out a great big guffaw while doing so. Instead I clung valiantly to my sanity and tried to keep from going beserk. After all, when you’re running short of loftmen (I think I’m going to have to fire one, and the other whom I’ve recently recruited is still having visa issues), you can’t let an opportunity to go bye-bye car ride to Ikea pass you by. I needed to buy a lamp for my bedroom and another for my living room (they died within days of each other – no doubt one of those bonding things you find in long-term relationships where one can’t live without the other). I also broke my very last drinking glass the other day, so I needed a set of new ones. Plus I needed a new kitchen rug, having spilled bleach onto its hapless predecessor. Oh yeah, and I needed some coasters too.
My loftman thought I was a bit overboard in my attitude toward the brats – oops, I mean children. Mind you, I didn’t criticise him for nearly running over an elderly couple in the car park, especially when he thought he’d recognised the man as his old boss. The pair were heading back to their vehicle sans any shopping, clearly fleeing the retail mayhem and thanking their chosen deity that they were done with all that child-rearing nonsense and were now well and happily on their way to their graves. Frankly, I couldn’t blame them. Had I known what lay in wait for me inside the Ikea, I would have taken a rain cheque on the entire shopping expedition and stayed home to do my ironing.
I can hear you saying “Oh, Mitzi, how terribly mean-spirited of you! Children are such a delight!” To that I say, keep them at least 100 feet away from me, if not 1,000! Believe me, I had the patience of a saint trying to get to the department I needed, which inevitably was at the tail end of the store – meaning we had to traverse the entire managerie of this Scandinavian retail warehouse as well as make our way past a hoard of happy breeding families all having a grand day out in gloomy wintry Essex. Were any of these families actually buying anything? Not from what I could see. No. They existed merely to spite me and interfere with my requirement to get what I needed and get the hell out of there. The only thing that offered any respite were a handful of gay male couples out selecting things to feather their nests with. It was obvious they were gay: they were physically fit, good looking, and groomed. No hairs sticking out of their noses or ears or, I’m certain, other locations in which you SO don’t want to see hairs sticking out from. I’ll say this much – in my next life I plan to come back as a gay man. And don’t try to talk me out of it!
After all this murder and mayhem, I nearly wept with relief to experience the peace and quiet of my flat again. Well… except for the fact that I had to spend the next hour fending off yet another proposal of marriage from my loftman, who proclaimed in a rather sinister tone that one day he will marry me. Christ, I didn’t realise I made that good a cuppa – and it was only from a PG Tips teabag, too! Alas, I had to let him down once again, as I simply cannot play favourites with my loftmen. Besides which, I suspect he doesn’t quite believe that a woman can exist who does not desire marriage, let alone harbour the desire to play incubator for the future inhabitants of this doomed planet. I have to admire the lad for his tenacity though, especially since I forced him to go up into my loft again to store some empty suitcases and boxes. But hey, such is life. He left my flat dejected, but nevertheless, warmed by a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
As for me, I’ve got my two new lamps, six new drinking glasses, and six new coasters. And let’s not forget my new kitchen rug!
Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: annoying children, Disneyland, Essex, Essex boys, Essex girls, gay men, half-term, Ikea, Lakeside Shopping Centre, loftman, PG Tips, pink tea kettles, shopping, Starbucks, The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, The New Black Lace Book of Women's Sexual Fantasies, Thurrock, Wallace & Gromit, West Ham United.