Ikea, I saw, I conquered: Alison Lee shares her Flat Pack phobia

I’m gripped by dread as the huge blue shoebox-on-legs looms over the horizon. It resembles a clunky spaceship, crash-landed in the wasteland bordering the M50. Fear clenches my stomach, a cold sweat breaks out on my brow – a reaction some reserve for heights, tarantulas… or in my case, Swedish flat-pack furniture.

I don’t think Ikeaphobia is a recognised medical syndrome but it’s only a matter of time. My father and I recently found ourselves outside this Temple of Doom before it was even open (there was already a queue). The mob of enthusiastic, clinically insane consumers was composed of parents pushing buggies, starry-eyed newly-weds, and determined-looking men hoping to get the weekend DIY over with early so they could watch the match, or maybe gouge their own eyes out- ANYTHING but screw chrome castors onto birch-effect filing cabinets.

A friendly intercom-voice informed us the abyss was open for business so we wandered like a herd of befuddled sheep into the yellow-and-blue, industrial yet cheerful labyrinth. Our mission was simple – buy a desk. We even had one picked out from the catalogue- “Gustav” was its name (all Ikea items have names. I don’t know either). So… find Gustav, pay, leave. Right? Wrong. Somehow we ended up exiting with not only our new pal Gustav in tow but also a few magazine-holders, a table lamb, lightbulbs, a dustpan-and-brush, scented tealights, and a candleholder. This is because, to escape Ikea, one has to trudge through acres of tempting, colourful knickknacks… What stony-hearted monster could resist the siren call of a miniature pink cheesegrater??

And if you traverse this Scylla unscathed you’re ensnared by Charybdis – a cavernous warehouse where you find your desired flat-pack items and manoeuvre them onto a trolley without slipping a disc. Its an eerie place – you can’t help imagine packs of lost children, abandoned by their interior-obsessed parents, slinking out the of the shadows at night to scavenge for scraps and bounce on beds. The Ikea ordeal doesn’t even end here. You have to queue at the till, steer your dangerously overloaded trolley through a car park and then squeeze the unwieldy boxes into the damn car. And at home, the torture of Assembly begins. This is the part where I crawl under by bed and hide from the cursing, screwdriver-wielding demon that was once my loving dad.

Ok, Ikea is cheap, stylish, and efficient. It’s also sneaky and underhand, seducing the innocent customer into spending far more than they ever intended to. As for efficiency: this is Ireland for gods’ sake, since when have we appreciated this alien Scandinavian concept?? Efficiency shmefficiency. I’ve since decided to abandon the idea of someday taking out a mortgage and doing up my dream home. Instead I’ll move into a yurt in the forest, furnished with animal hides. Maybe a log. No Gustavs, that’s for sure.