Riquwihr, Alsace, July 2006If there is such a thing as hell on earth then the Wembly branch of IKEA, on a Saturday afternoon, has to be it.

Sucking the souls of the damned to it like a black hole gobbling up intergalactic flotsam, the IKEA Brent Park should be regarded as nothing less than Lucifer’s weekend retreat.

Only the insane would voluntarily go to a place where agony of one kind or another was assured: queuing to get into the car park; queuing for a parking space; queuing through the ‘showroom’; queuing for a trolley; queuing around the warehouse; queuing to pay; queuing to get out of the car park.

Needless to say – the phrase “We need to do an IKEA shop” used to bring me out in a cold sweat, and I’d have to quickly propose a convincing alternative to save me from being lead into the mouth of home-furnishing madness by my wife.

In Strasbourg though, things are different. The IKEA here has yet to be visited by the son of Satan, and even if he did show up he’d find no queues, no agro, and no problems. Granted he’d also find an excessive amount of laminated chipboard – but you can’t have everything.