Sunday, 26 April 2009

Ikea- or how I'm allergic to Swedish furniture stores.

There was a terrible amount of fuss when Ikea opened in Southampton. Allegedly people slept overnight to get inside first.
If they were that desperate, they could have gone to the one in Croydon instead.
People's personal strangenesses aside, here are five reasons why I hope to never, ever set foot in the store again.

Permit me initially, to set the scene. Upon completing the spiral-staircase-for-cars that is the entrance ramp, you find you need to go to the top of the store to get into it. Unless you go in at the bottom (which you won't- as it's harder to park there). Fine. Ok. Not TOO bad. So you bimble gently up the travelators and marvel at the scale of the box that is Ikea (9 taped together make a Borg cube).
Once you make it inside, you approach the first point of annoyance. The maps. These show a vague scribble of an outline of the floor you are on, and are dominated completely by a big, white, wiggly arrow that shows you where to go.
Through the shop.
It even tells you "shortcuts" if you happen to decide you don't want to mooch past the throw pillows today.
I think this is beyond the remit of a map. Maps are there for us to find out where we are, and where we want to go- not to tell us that walking a certain way makes the shop happy. Isn't this like buying an AA road atlas and finding it was done on MSPaint, and includes a picture of your house, and a single marked route to north Wales? Or maybe buying a fridge whose instructions inform you what food to fill it with?

Having navigated your way to the section of your choice (or the map's choice) you are now faced with a further problem. Labels.
These are, at best confusing. Each of them is laid out in a similar manner: the name of the product is written in small type, and beneath it, in very large, visible letters, is a word like, 'Snørf'
Or 'Plåp'
Or even 'Dave'.
Now, let's be fair, these words clearly mean something. But... what exactly? I'm not stupid (mostly not anyway) and I could not for the life of me work out what they were supposed to be telling us, the bewildered public. Neither could my friend. Neither could my girlfriend. Did I miss some sign?? Or a helpful pamphlet in the art of translating from English into Swedish Furniture? My best guess is that they're somehow part of 'sets' and by matching names you can sort of co-ordinate your kitchen or living room. In that case, it would help if half their products didn't look the same as the other half. Because it really really wouldn't make any difference trying to match things.

Oh also, don't lets gang up and leave a stream of "But it's obvious! It means....." because I don't care- it can't have been that easy to find out, so it's a fail.
This one is quite personal to me. Having worked our way past a collection of 'Fleskes' we finally found ourselves in the kitchen section. Hooray! Rejoice! This is where my sought item must reside.
Basically, I want one of these:

There it is. Nice and simple; sure you've come across one before.

Now, note that I said I WANT one. That's because, they didn't have one.
WHAT? I bought the one that I recently smashed to bits from SAINSBURYS. That's a shop that sells rubbish cheap vodka not crockery- AND YET they managed to sell me one. Here we have IKEA, a store so vast it could hide Johnny Vegas completely; that has an olympic sized kitchenware department; and they didn't have a bloody pyrex dish, with a lid. Oh, don't get me wrong they had dishes, but I needed three things from my simple dish, and they could provide one:
I need it to not blow up upon microwaving.
I need it to have a lid.
I need it to have handles.
I think a recent study showed that over 107% of glass dishes in, and out, of Sweden meet these requirements; so why are they trying to sell me a sodding glass trough with no lid to protect the microwave and no handles to avoid me smashing a second one??
This, probably, sounds petulant. It is after all only a dish. But realistically, you'd be pretty pissed if you turned up at a clothes shop and found they didn't sell trousers, or a stationery shop with no pens, or a car showroom where none of the models had wheels.

A minor niggle, but one that many, many companies are guilty of. Allow me to phrase this as useful advice to any store chain, service provider, or brand of goods:
If I already have your goods, have already paid for your service, or am already in your store, for the love of [enter deity here], STOP ADVERTISING TO ME ALREADY

The car park is large. Not a problem in itself, but now consider that for the entire... what five floors of parking, there are THREE ticket machines, next to each other, and one wasn't working. Now imagine that everyone wants to leave said carpark down the single lane exit ramp, through the single barrier.
If you're struggling, try this:
Fit this:
Through here:

Monday, 20 April 2009

Breaking News

Moving on slightly from the post below (having had at least one VERBAL plea to keep this going) I feel I should use the slightly more accomodating facilities of this very blog, to discuss this:

Regarding the walkout today of world leaders from a UN racism summit.

For those of you who are unaware, a short history.

Several countries, noted in the article, have boycotted the conference altogether. Notably, the US is absent. These countries all cited the Iranian president as their main concern. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stance as a vehement anti-israeli is nothing new, and leaders were concerned he would use a summit (notable for aiming to eradicate racism) to p
eddle his own ideals about how the Israeli state is run by racist Jews aiming to destroy the Palestinians.
Whatever your views on the recent crisis there, I think it's fair to say this is a serious allegation and not one that should be put forward at this sort of summit.

To further complicate matters, Iran is currently in a very delicate balance with the West. The Obama regime has so far proved to be of great help to improving relations with a country that (potentially) could develop nuclear weapons, and who in the past have been incredibly anti american:

More recently, Ahmadinejad personally intervened in the matter of an Iranian-American journalist involved in a very controversial trial for spying for the US government. Whether his action here is politically motivated, or if he's genuinely concerned with her welfare, is anybody's guess. But it certainly showed that he was capable of changing his tone to deal with a new era of American presidency.

To the matter in hand then.

It seems obvious, that this will do no favours for relations between Iran and the western world- that goes without saying. But what of the event itself and what may now happen?
Well, for starters, the US representative never turned up to the event, as stated above. Ahmadinejad has already condemned all nations who boycotted the summit, which clearly implies america as well.
Oh dear then.
Notably, he hasn't directed this at specific countries. And this could swing too ways for the future of Iran-US relations.
Either, Obama and Ahmadinejad will see this as a seperate issue, and continue discussing other issues such as Uranium enrichment and the imprisoned journalist as though this had never happened, or it will have a severe impact on future talks. The first eventuality is more likely to arise from the iranian camp- the US has made it clear they want to improve things and not make it worse. I find it unlikely that Obama would jeopardise this. However, I also don't see him staying completely quiet on the subject, and it will be worth seeing how Iran reacts to whatever he ends up saying. I'm sure though, that the order will be US, then Iran. The second outcome is more likely if Ahmadinejad returns to his pre-Obama stance of cynicism against the US, and would obviously be very regrettable.

The walkout itself, was more of an obviously defiant move by ministers actually in his presence. Certainly it is easier from Ahmadinejad's perspective to be critical of an event which happened under his presence, which he himself caused. Could then, the countries involved in the walkout end up being more harshly criticised by Iran than those who failed to show?

The UK falls into this category, so we should be able to follow a similar pattern to the US, regarding Brown's opinion and Ahmadinejad's response. This should, in theory, almost mirror that of the US: however, I believe if there is a difference, it will be that Brown's Britain is likely to come off worse, for the reasons above- that the UK minister physically walked out and didn't just not show up in the first place.
That and Brown is less likeable.

Anyway, I will leave it there with this particular thought-vomit. Please argue/discuss as you see fit :)

Thursday, 16 April 2009

A musing...

I fear, that this little online mind outlet is becoming a non-starter (can you become a non-starter?). It seems my slightly more political ramblings on the "popular social networking site" (say in voice of news reporter) are at present attracting more publicity and a greater readership than this little collection of thoughts. Which is sort of a shame. I know I rant a lot, but I thought for a fleeting moment that people would be interested in the other weird angles of my brain- typed out for all to see.

This seems to not be the case.

I'll give it some time. If I get any comments along the lines of "No! Please! Keep the blog going!" than I shall, failing that, I may have to don the hat of Political Commentator like so so many before me, to ensure I get any attention for my efforts.

But first, I shall eat the stilton and bacon baguette I have under the grill.
Comments please.

Ps: RIP Clement Freud. We'll miss your dulcet tones on Radio 4.