Friday, 18 September 2015

Leaving home? Then you must go to IKEA.

A Wednesday lunchtime in September and the kitchen department at IKEA is overrun with mothers and sons. Turns out there's a customer demographic I knew nothing about. Besides prospective parents buying cots and stacks of those colourful plastic plates all homes with off-spring must have, apparently, IKEA also caters for parents at the other end of the spectrum, with children about to leave home. I'm one of them.

"But I won't need a milk pan at uni, mum!" I overhear a boy saying. The boy is tall and baby-faced, the mother trailing behind him, arms laden with duvet and pans, has blonde highlights and Converse trainers. It's like looking in a mirror. Move away quick! I think, we are not like these people. But the truth is, we are these people.

I pick a wok and some towels, among other things. He adds fairy lights and a cactus. We have a lovely time and as we're leaving he says, "This is blog post gold." So here it is.

I also want to buy a car. Not for him but for me. I will NOT roll up at university in that crappy twelve year-old Vauxhall Zafira. I'm not even sure it will get us there. So just to add to the pressure, the sense that time is running out on us, I'm trying to find something to part-exhange our knackered Zafira for. I don't really care what it is, just so long as I can play music and talk on the phone while I'm in it, and that it goes.

Right up to the wire, on Thursday evening before we're due to set off with all his belongings on Friday morning, a car salesman at the local Ford dealership comes up with something: an S-Max, our old car can be part-exchanged.

"Should I take this old radio out?" I say to Eldest, as we empty the Zafira together. We've already removed most of the plastic detritus floating in the foot wells, McDonald's toys from yesteryear and half-empty water bottles, the radio I bought from Halfords some time back to stick my iPhone in just feels like another piece of flotsam. It doesn't even fit the space properly, sinking back ever more deeply into the crevice each time I press a button.

"Yes!" says Eldest. It's a teenage boy's dream: permission to vandalise a car. He dashes back to the house for a screwdriver.

At the garage the red S-Max Titanium sits gleaming on the forecourt. It has tinted back windows and leather seats which you can heat up with the press of a button. It has a panoramic roof to watch the clouds roll by as you sit in the back. It has built in Sat Nav and a bluetooth phone system. It has keyless entry, which means you need only hover in the general vicinity and you can open the car. This freaks me out. Will it open itself as I walk past to go to the shops? Will I have to take an MA in electronics to work out how to use this thing?

We sit at a desk and the salesman fills out the paperwork. He tries to sell me insurance, for scratches, for wheels, for things he says my regular insurance won't cover. So that's insurance for my insurance. I'm not having any of it. He asks me to sign God knows how many pieces of paper, all of which I question in minute detail until his tone becomes a tad exasperated. It becomes even frostier after he spots something sitting on the edge of the desk in front of Eldest: the battered radio. I can't quite believe Eldest put it there. I pop it in my bag as the salesman watches.

"I'm just going to check on your old car," he says, and dashes off.  When he returns he asks if I have, "The radio fascia, to put back."

"The what?" I say.

"The radio fascia, from the Zafira."

I assume he doesn't mean the radio he just saw sitting on the desk, the one I popped in my bag as he watched, or he'd say so. I assume he must be asking for something else, something I don't have. Honest. I tell him this, repeatedly, until it finally twigs that he does mean the radio he just saw me pop in my bag.

"Oh that!" I say, "The radio. I bought that in Halfords. It didn't come with the car. It's ours. He removed it." I point to Eldest. (Turns out there's no honour amongst thieves.)

"She told me to do it," says Eldest. (See what I mean?)

"Well it's no use to you," says the salesman, "I need it to sell your car."

"Sell it?" says Eldest, "you can't sell that, it's only good for scrap!"

I sheepishly hand over the radio. Under the circumstances I think it's the least I can do.

Love E x


P.S. We left our resident parking permit inside. Do you think the salesman will post it back to me if I ask nicely? 
No, me neither.

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