I've only recently popped my Ikea cherry. Until 2010, I'm pretty sure I was the last person in the country not to have been part of the Swedish cult, but finally the lure of 'storage solutions' and the meatballs became too hard to resist.
(Actually, the meatballs were a bribe to get him to go).
The holy grail of storage solutions is the TV unit that does not make it seem that the television is the centre of your universe, and so I set off intent on leaving with a flatpack that would give me a clutter-free and stylish life. I left with nothing but a bad mood.
If Ikea is anything to go by, life in Sweden is bright, cheap, well designed and child-friendly. It is also mobbed with the little nippers, mammies on a mission, retired DIY dads and couples hell-bent on testing the limits of their relationship.
I kept ending up in the apartment bathrooms area with no idea how to get out of the windowless warehouse. I contemplated sending up a flare to locate himself. But that's because I didn't cop how the whole Ikea thing works. There is a floor plan. With arrows. You get a map to follow them. Frankly, a sherpa would have been of more use.
Attempt to double back once you're on the arrow path and it's like driving southbound on the M50 northbound. "Go on without me," I called out, defeated, irritable and hopeless. All the while a repeat recording of a well-bred English lady is asking "Is your other half unable to hang a picture?" This is to entice you to avail of an assembly service. More of that later.
But I went back because the cheap side of me loves Ikea (The part of me that values stress-free weekends thinks Ikea must be Swedish for hell). Loading the car with the purchase was like a task from The Crystal Maze
We rammed, pushed, forced and wedged our monstrous flatpacks in, the car dipping dangerously low to the road.
They must teach Ikea assembly in school in Sweden. It took six and a half hours, Old Testament-type fury and two calluses to put together a simple enough piece. After the 'in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer' part of marriage vows, they should add 'through Ikea assembly'. If you manage to put some flatpack together without breaking up, you are odds on to reach your Ruby wedding anniversary.
There are Ikea Lovers and Ikea Haters groups on Flickr. And there's the 'I wanna play a massive game of hide and seek in Ikea' Facebook page. Forget to follow the arrows and you'll play it, unwittingly...
The Style Bitches will have great fun with this year's list of nominees for VIP magazine's most stylish lady --which includes 'yours truly'.
The Bitches are exactly what it says on the tin; catty and bitchy when it comes to what you wear.
"This is obviously a safe sex outfit," their website sneers at one of their victims. "Epic body covered in a bedspread from Heatons alert", "hair is rank" and "howya handbag" are other spot on observations. Cheryl Cole's outfit is deemed "high-class hooker".
What will they make of this years list of hapless nominees?
Which of us should have the bottle of fake tan prized from their hands? Which so-called style icon wouldn't know good taste if she got a crash course in it?
I've long suspected VIP has its tongue pressed firmly in check when it unveils its annual list. Hands up -- I've got it wrong, way too often. Have mercy on us. Or don't.
Much more fun to pass round a saucer of milk and get bitchy ...
A table quiz to raise money for Haiti reminded me how little I know. Especially about geography and sport. Who knew that it was Alan Quinlan broke his collar bone going over for a try in the 2003 World Cup? A few people in the room, actually.
Tipperary On Tour -- the team of which I was a member -- were neck and neck with The Seismologists for the first three rounds.
But Quiz In My Pants (yes, this was the name of a team) overtook us in the fourth.
But the pub quiz as we know it is under threat. The 'win-at-all-costs' mentality has unleashed wholesale cheating. Mobiles, iPhones and texting are all the bane of the modern quiz. In Britain, the average score required to win is higher than a decade ago. The figures coincide with an increase in the number of texts being sent between 8.30 and 10.30 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings was noticed -- when most pub quizzes are held. Don't want to cheat on mobiles? Barter an answer for an answer with the table next to you. Good hearing and lip-reading are invaluable tools, too.