IKEA: A Rant

I really haven’t got this thought through properly and sorted in my head.  But I really want to write about IKEA because, as some of my facebook friends may have noticed, the place really winds me up.

I had managed to avoid IKEA for a few years.  However, 8 weeks ago we moved house.  Now if you were to drive vaguely in a downhill direction from our new house on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon  for about 75 seconds you would find yourself at the end of the queue for the IKEA car park.  You would still be 500m away from the entrance to the car park but that is how long the queue is because there is something about IKEA that draws the masses.

They are very clever at branding because they have somehow convinced the capitalist world that the consumer needs to have their home set up the IKEA way, you need to live the IKEA lifestyle.  They even creep into popular culture featuring in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Fight Club.  Ironically, the Fight Club concept is certainly full of anti-IKEA lifestyle sentiments but the message still comes through at the start that IKEA defines a way of life.

So I have hideously found myself searching for a car parking space in IKEA four times in the last month* and to be honest the place revolts me.  The way you are conveyored around the whole building, the way they make out that it is a wholesome family experience to spend all your money with them, the way they keep you buying right to the very exit with that cafe where you can’t even get a seat yet it’s rammed with people prepared to stand up and be squashed in while they consume their snacks and caffeine.  I could go on but ranting isn’t good.

What do other people think?  IKEA is obviously really popular so If you love IKEA, why?














* Twice was to return shoddy quality products


No presents for 8 year old this Christmas

This young man is an example to us all.  As reported in the Birmingham Mail, 8 year old Ethan Edwards leads the way in living a life that confronts consumerism with a care and love for those less fortunate.  The lad only went and persuaded all his relatives to give to Birmingham Central Foodbank instead of getting presents himself!

Ethan Edwards has asked all his family to give donations of food for Birmingham Central Foodbank

Why does it take a child to remind us that this is an option, that we don’t need presents at Christmas at all?  It really is great to choose to give a thoughtful gift to a loved one but what percentage of gifts were given freely?  I suspect many presents were bought as a result of the cultural compulsion that, at the very least, we need to buy one present for every significant family member otherwise we’re not doing Christmas properly.

When the John Lewis ad came out there was much gushing for the skill and artistry that went into it .  However, all the advert did was add to the tidal wave of consumerism that washes away all but the most stubborn of selfless Christmas spirit.  I’m glad that young Ethan manages to resist what we all tell him about Christmas and shows that there is a different path to choose.

I’m as guilty as the next and need to make decisions this Christmas to make sure next Christmas puts others before the urge to buy buy buy.



Buy Local

I know I’m a little late but last Saturday was “Small Business Saturday” where consumers up and down the country were encouraged to buy from local businesses.  We’ve just moved into Wednesbury in the West Midlands so it is a great opportunity for us to get into the habit of using local businesses.  And it’s not actually as hard as you think:

  • Meat – We’ve been to one of the local butchers already.  Yes, butcher meat can be more expensive but it is so much better than supermarket meat in so many ways!
  • Fish – I’m afraid we bought fish from Morrisons but the butcher has told me that Great Bridge market on a Saturday is great for fish.
  • Fruit & Veg – So far bought fresh fruit and veg from Aldi, Morrisons and a market stall.  Need to be more organised to use the market stall more.
  • Bike Repairs – Have avoided Halfords and had incredible service from Wardy’s Cycles in Darlaston.
  • Car Repairs – Haven’t needed them yet but have a couple of local mechanics in mind.  On moving day we used a local van hire rather than one of the international companies.
  • Online Shopping – This is one that we need to get away from I think but it is difficult because online shopping is so convenient.  Amazon have a distribution centre about 20 miles away in Rugeley but I don’t think that makes it a local business!
  • Carpets – We’ve been recommended a little place in Bilston.  Not made a final decision yet but they have just as much choice as any of the big companies.
  • Furniture – Rather than get drawn to the ‘sales’ at the big sofa, bed or dining table warehouses how about visiting a few charity shops.  That has come up short for us on this occasion but the carpet shop mentioned above also have an extensive catalogue of different furniture.  Ikea might be convenient but it ain’t local, even if we do have one quarter of a mile away.

It does take more effort but going round the local shops means you are more in tune with local life because you meet more people and your money is going into the local community.  If anybody has got any good ideas or local recommendations then I’d love to hear them!

Tolstoy’s Resurrection Part 2: Turning a Blind Eye to Suffering

The work done by Comic Relief is brilliant.  For one night only it manages to turn the apathetic and uncaring British public into compassion filled givers of cash.  Yet I think we would agree that the good will generated through Comic Relief is a bit of an annual one off for some, and certainly the zenith of the year’s compassion levels for the rest.

Even the heart-wrenching videos of a boy band crying in an African hospital struggle to provoke more than a skin deep reaction in us – we are genuinely moved, we give a little, yet we continue to live our lives in a manner that sustains and exacerbates the horrific levels of poverty just a few hours plane ride away.

In Resurrection, Tolstoy dismantles the ethics of middle and upper class Russian society about 120 years ago.  The reader is introduced to character after character who do absolutely nothing to challenge the culture that celebrated in the economic and sociological structures that kept the rich rich yet produced millions of deaths through disease and starvation.  Even those who saw the pain, and were even moved by it, could bring themselves to do nothing to change.

My prayer for myself is that I would have open eyes and an open heart to the pain and struggle around me and that I would act on the emotional feelings I experience and actually act in compassion, instead of continuing to turn a blind eye, just to keep myself feeling better.

Do you want to do the same?  If so then right now STOP, and pray for God to transform your heart.

Adverts I Despise – #2

This is the one where Gary Lineker is eating crisps watching lots of people climb some deep ‘ridges’.  Once again we are taken for absolute mugs.

Did anybody ever eat some ridged type crisps before, such as McCoys and think, ‘oh I wish these ridges were deeper’?  As far as I can see Walkers are desperately looking for something to mark their crisps above the other brands and the best they could come up with is that the ridges are deeper!  Now they are running a marketing campaign to convince us that we need to be eating these deep ridged crisps otherwise we’ll be missing out on what the crisp eating experience has to offer our lives.

Don’t fall for it, other crisps will be cheaper, the bags will fuller, and chances are they’ll taste better.

Adverts I Despise – #1

I was happily listening to the radio this evening when Monarch Airlines told me that when I choose my skiing holiday for this winter I should book it through them.  Hang on…when I choose my skiing holiday?  Who said I was going on a skiing holiday this year?  Or have ever been on a skiing holiday?  Or have ever felt a lack of fulfillment for never having gone skiing in my life?

Oh, I apologise Monarch, I see what you are doing – you’re playing a trick on my mind by sending a message to my brain that if I hadn’t already started planning a skiing holiday then I must be abnormal and culturally deviant, and that I better get planning one straight away otherwise I will miss out on some life fulfilling experience and therefore become less of a complete human being….