"We could go to Ikea?"
The laugh dies in my throat as I realise she's serious.
Then she offers me a small thread of hope.
"..or you could go. I'll get the house ready for their arrival"
That's marginally better. You can't have a screaming, stand up row in 'Swedish One-Way Hell' on your own.
I don't really mind Ikea. I've quite enjoyed wandering around there on my own on a Monday afternoon. On a Saturday afternoon however, it's like a Dawn of the Dead version of bull running in Pamploma. There is a very real danger I could get trampled underfoot by the shuffling citizens of Wednesbury.
The reason for this excusion is that we may be having visitors, and the spare rooms furniture is now a little tired. Mme S. must have a Shnorkvel, a Migtark and a Fengerkunter, or the weekend will be a disaster.
The M6 is horrible. Three lanes of stationary traffic for miles. Takes me 90 minutes to do a journey that would normally only take around 87. When I pull off at Junction 9 I see the reason. The queue for the Ikea checkouts has now stretched onto the fast lane.
I climb the steps to the temple of reasonably priced chipboard, steel myself and grab one of the yellow bags. These seem designed so that you can fit nothing into them and they're almost impossible to carry. I am alarmed by a sign that says there is an emergency recall of Senapssil. I quickly check my list. Phew! No Senapssil. I'd hate to have to take something back before I'd even bought it.
I begin the Ikea shuffle. "Brainnnnnsss... Brainnnnsss" we chant. George Romero would be proud.
One couple, with a child, refuse to play. The sprog is squinting oddly at daddy. "Jamie!", hisses the Mrs, " Jordan is looking at your aura..". Oh dear. Not yet able to make the step up to Zombies.
I press on, shoulder to shoulder with my travelling buddies (we've become close now) pausing only to make notes of the locations of the items I require from the warehouse, and stopping seven or eight times to ask directions. Often in the middle of peoples front rooms.
I finally get to the warehouse to make my selection. Luckily the items are relatively small and I am able to carry them in my yellow sack. Though the Shnorkvel juts out at a rather unfortunate angle, knocking some hoody goths into a basket full of pillows. It'll take weeks for them to re-apply that makeup. Serves 'em right for being derivative.
I make my way out of the store and walk two or three miles back down the M6 to join the queue for the checkouts....
Once home, I retire to bed. I don't wan't to be up late tomorrow and miss Assembly. We can have a stand-up row when she realises my attempt at a Fengerkunter looks more like Shartflerp.