The nightmare that is IKEA

Just occasionally you have to go to IKEA. Sometimes it’s for those tea light things (a bag of a 1,000 is essential). Stuff is so cheap you just have to buy it – even if you will never use it again. It’s stuff that might come in useful (apparently).


The place is a baffling myriad of anagrams STURKY, TEGGURKA, GRUQQAR – but it turns out there is a sense of organisation in this too. Inferior products (such as doormats, floor runners, carpeting – basically anything that touches the bottoms of shoes.) are named after Danish towns. Then Swedish town names are handed down to furniture, bookcases and multimedia consoles. Norway bags the beds, dressers and hallway furniture. Finally Finland have the honour of the expensive chairs and dining tables. I kid you not.

IKEA’s spokesperson Charlotte Lindgren responded, “It’s nonsense to say that we did this on purpose. It was a pure coincidence, and it happened many decades ago…Besides these critics appear to greatly underestimate the importance of floor coverings. They are fundamental elements of furnishing.” No shit sherlock.

Being in IKEA is akin to a living nightmare. It’s not just the products – it’s the people. They start their experience by wanting to park as close to the exit as they can – because IKEA don’t have those little pound machines on their trolleys – so they concrete you in. This is a test then to carry their heavy kit a quarter of a mile to your car!

But this is nothing compared to the pain of assembling all those odd shaped screws and washers. The instructions might as well be in Danish. Inevitably you finish the whole thing and are left with three or four screws, dowels of other bits of metal. They grin up at you in a smug way – “we know where we go, but we’re not telling you“.

Should I throw them out – or keep them, just in case the thing falls apart tomorrow?

When I came out I saw the pictured car. Reminded me of my old RS4. As for his parking … Enough said on the matter.

A new Audi – wow!

It’s fair to say that I miss my RS4 – it was by far the best car I ever owned. The three years I had it went by a ll too quickly. In the snow of last week, I missed the four-wheel drive! I guess I don’t miss the 13 mpg… But I do miss it!

It was the second Audi I had owned – the first was an Audi TT – which I also loved. But now Audi have gone and set a new benchmark – with the unveiling of a new go-faster version of the TT. The new 2012 TT RS Plus is a tuned version of the coupe and roadster with 355bhp – giving more horses than the Porsche Cayman R.

This is a very very fast car – 174mph is top speed. This is the limited speed – to stop the tyres blowing up! There’s no mpg figures yet so I figure that it will be eco-friendly.

0-62mph is 4.1 seconds. Which is a bit quicker than my RS4 – which was 4.6 seconds – and that was quick!

What I love most though are those wheels… They look really cool!

This looks like a very sensible choice for my next car? Thought you would agree…

Cars and CO2 – make your mind up

I had to change my car last September and it was a sad sad day; I blogged about it here. The reason the car had to go was primarily tax, but it was a massive part of my carbon footprint. My replacement car was a much greener diesel Mercedes.

RS4 RIP - for no reason

The new car isn’t the same, but then the RS4 was something quite different and special. My E Class Mercedes does have a (hairdressers) drop top – which I am looking forward to over the next few months! The top was down last week.

I nearly choked on my orange juice at the weekend – the Daily Telegraph main story on Saturday was that Diesel Cars are now close to worshipping the Devil – as far as the green brigade are concerned. To the extent that they are worse for the environment than petrol cars, some Councils are now charging a premium for ‘dirty’ diesel engined cars. In some parts £150 per year more for a permit.

Make your bloody minds up. I thought my diesel produced less CO2?

My real issue with the whole of this sustainability movement is the lack of consistent and accurate data. I do accept that we need to reduce our carbon footprints as we have established a link with bad stuff. But this constant stream of conflicting data does nothing for the cause.

You might recall that I am doing some research with The University of Nottingham about values in green buildings. One of the early suggestions is that ‘the market’ have some concerns about the credibility of some of the technology – and whether all of the rules are necessary. The ‘East Anglia effect‘ still burns…

In the meantime – I am considering getting a Hummer


Audi RS4 2007-2010

It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing of my very good and trusty friend and who has been at my side for the last 47,000 miles and three years.

There was no prolonged illness – in fact no illness at all in her briefest of life. Just two regular ‘hospital‘ checks and a bit of new ‘shoe leather’ from time to time. She did once have a sticky ”heart” valve, but that was fixed in no time by the nice Doctor. I think I had pushed her a bit hard. She forgave me I think. She never mentioned it again.

Looking back, there might have been a big drinking habit, sometimes an outrageous amount – and she was always addicted to the hard stuff, but liked the occasional ‘short‘ too. Perhaps she drank more than you would think healthy. Certainly it was an insatious appetite for the nectar stuff. It wasn’t long before she needed another.

Her body was still in pretty good shape – despite her advanced years. There were a few bits of wear and tear, but you show me a three year old who doesn’t carry the odd bruise from play fighting?

I have a feeling that this isn’t the end for the old girl though. With any luck she will be resurrected and given a new identity and place to play? Her tattoo (aka distinguishing mark) will be removed today.

It’s been fun. She was certainly a high maintenance sort of girl. But she never failed to make me smile. She ran before she walked. She was a born sprinter.

So you should never say goodbye – it’s more auf wiedersehen pet. But until then, Vorsprung Durch Technik.

The new model arrives later today. She has a lot to live up to!

Audi RS4 RIP.

Always on technology

I blogged yesterday about me ordering my new car. I am looking forward to it now – I think the DAB radio will be the newest feature (I like Radio 4 in the morning as my warm up to Starbucks!). And I am hoping that my ipod will be recognised as not just file names – but with titles of the band and the songs – something the RS4 can’t manage!

Brilliant - but what is that windows thing?

But now there is a new technology here in the form of an in-car wi-fi. Three (in a Prince-like way, formerly known as 3) have announced a broadband dongle for the car. Complete with car charger and windscreen mount – you can have your email, diary and internet access in the car!

The device is evidently made in China and looks like a small mobile phone. It will enable you to have wi-fi on the move!

So I will be able to have my ipad in my car? Or laptop. I think I may need to have a special mount made which will allow me to type? I know using the telephone (off hands-free devices) is illegal but am wondering if I will be ok typing?

Obviously I will keep my responses brief… much like I do on my iphone!

You do have to wonder where there ‘always connected’ technology will end – perhaps it won’t. At the Nottingham Contemporary exhibition last week (see blog) there was a piece of work by French artists Léonore Bonaccini and Xavier Fourt who call themslves Bureau d’Etudes. They explored this notion that we are becoming a world where computers and humans are merging.

The future is looking decidedly cyborg. I expect the ipad will soon learn to drive?

Cars and compromises?

Most people who know me realise that my current car is quite important to me. It is my ‘mid-life’ crisis car and goes fast and drinks petrol at an astonishing rate. Last week the £78 petrol bill was consumed in just 168 miles. Short journeys might be fast – but they are expensive. This ignores the tax – which is £604 per month as a benefit in kind.

Nissan GTR - dream car, nightmare tax

I have also ignored the green credentials of the car – which are around zero. Or just below.

Sadly the car is reaching the end of its (leased) life and I need to contemplate a replacement. This is not easy!

I am very lucky in that I can choose pretty much any car within reason.

Performance is important – but super-cars tend to have very high CO2 emissions and thus attract lots of tax for The Treasury. Low carbon emission cars tend to have performance times measured in minutes not seconds! Maybe except the Tesla – but you need a second mortgage for that.

Yesterday I started looking around. I visited a number of dealerships.

I carry some prejudices – good and bad. Nottingham Audi have been superb over the last three years – the staff are friendly and helpful. Nottingham BMW (same ownership) were appalling during the ownership of my last car. Mercedes I similarly struggle with – the level of arrogance in the main dealership is palpable – my wife has an A Class and we now have it serviced privately by the excellent MBNottingham.

Image is quite important in my business but the Jaguar leaves me feeling I need a pipe and smoking jacket – maybe this is unfair. But a Porsche definitely places you in a certain category – especially as the golf clubs need to occupy the front seat!

Which leaves a limited number of cars in reality. We found ourselves at Lexus. I had a Lexus IS200 sport back in 1999 – and loved it. I think I might surprise all of my colleagues (and some of my family) by actually looking at a Hybrid – but the RX450h does offer quite a lot. The level of luxury is high. But the emissions are low resulting in a tax bill monthly of around £260 – a massive £340 saving on what I pay now! But if I am honest the real attractions to this car are the ‘toys’ – Mark Levinson sound system, keyless entry, air suspension and very cool lighting….

And the compromise? Performance. Audi 0-60 = 4.6 secs; Lexus 7.8 secs. So, I will have to find an extra 3 seconds from somewhere!

I don’t have to make the decision immediately – but it looks like I may become a reluctant tree-hugger yet. Or will I?