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Cosmopolitan Hell

The article

Now that we’re living the cosmopolitan lifestyle in Hangzhou I find it’s not so much fun. Clearly, the wife and I are not fashionable enough to be living in such an environment––we look out of place set against the stark minimalist lines of our IKEA birch effect furniture. We need to have the angular body lines and good breeding of someone like Kate Middleton and Prince William. It’s a sad fact, but I’m afraid we clash with our furniture.

It’s just not us is it? We made a mistake, sucked in by the Swedish design wizards who make all this stuff so available, so cheap, so life changingly, magnetically, headturningly, full of wantability. I was in marketing so I should have known the traps that lay ahead. I should have seen through the hype; I should have known! I may have to send my degrees back to my alma-mater before I get court-martialled by the sociology police.

The other thing about living in this minimalist hell is one needs to be really tidy. Anally tidy, not just your normal, “Oh I’ll pick it up in a minute, tomorrow, sometimes this week (maybe the weekend if I feel up to it) tidy.” Tidy enough for a Freudian analyst to seriously question you about how your parent’s potty trained you.

I spent hours using my minimal furniture making skills assembling the flat-packed jigsaw puzzles the Swedes call furniture. Amazingly, it all went to plan without any major hiccups. We were lulled. The bookcases were attached to the wall, the cupboards assembled; the table took pride of place in the “eating area”; the fashionable knick knacks had been arrayed. We stepped back and gazed adoringly at our new lifestyle––soon we would be rich and famous.

That’s when we noticed it––the general untidiness of our lives. Where do you put all your stuff? Where does the ephemera of day-to-day living go? The stuff you dragged all the way to China, the tat picked up on holiday in Thailand, the bits and pieces that you empty out of your pockets day-after-day-after-day, all the stuff you’ve nicked from work, for example? You can put it on the table, but then its untidy, and immediately you’re living the life of a chav. Because one bit of stuff draws to it other bits of stuff. I bet Einstein had a theory about it, or it’s what he based his own theories on. That theory about equal and opposite attractions, for instance. Untidy stuff always attracts other untidy stuff – I’m convinced they’ll find the thesis in his long-lost writings, stuffed in a book somewhere in a Cambridge library. Perhaps that’s why it’s lost, someone, probably his mum, had a tidy up. Come on, admit it, how much useful stuff has been lost after a tidy up?

Now we might have to move. It’s like living in an Instagram influencers worst nightmare. We need to find somewhere comfier, not the soulless birch desert we now inhabit, having to move through the room like a herd of browsing cattle picking up each bit of litter, socks, coffee cups, pens, books and so on as they make the place look untidy. Plus, the seating left by the landlord totally does not go. I’m sure the guys at IKEA have already heard on the grapevine.

“Calling all salesmen, Calling all salesmen.”

“10/4 come back good buddy.”

“Wai-go-ren fashion faux paswarning in Binjiang”

“What’s that good buddy?”

“Traditional Chinese brown wooden suite is clashing with new IKEA inspired minimalism”

“OH MY GOD! I’ll send the catalogue immediately and contact Thierry Chow, the Feng Shui master in Hong Kong––those poor, poor people, it must be hell!”

At least our bedroom is a haven of normality. I say normality, but after moving in nearly 18-months ago, we still have a room full of boxes and suitcases. Tonight the big mirrors are going up (wife’s idea). Then it’ll be like living in a Fred Astaire movie in the 30’s––all that reflective glass (although methinks, more like a “Swedish” Fred Astaire movie, if you catch my drift). But I’ll still not be able to find my pants or socks, we now have so many storage options. I’ll probably have a senior moment, and forget what I’m looking for, or where it is. It’ll take me longer to get dressed in the morning, and then I’ll be late for work, get the sack, and not be able to pay the rent and be homeless.

I blame it all on IKEA!

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