Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The entrance is marked with the self-same word – an instruction rather than a flourish of architectural persuasion. The full-length wall of windows shows an unhappy diagonal of two flights of escalators taking customers towards the heights of a corrugated ceiling and intertwined barricades of steel girders.
I do as I am told
and enter and join the flow upwards.
Blue and yellow signs are suspended from above:
A celebratory mix of instruction and description
that already jars when read deliberately.
Grey pathways
trail through
laminate living rooms.
Price tags sway
as people brush by.
Arrows printed
on pathways
point pedestrians
around the store:
from this post
to the next to the next,
ad infinitum until end.

Vistas of suggested living arrangements make recommendations:
Divide our lives into manageable compartments.
Decorate our lives with polished pebbles and dyed dead twigs.
Have a lie in every Sunday with coffee and croissants in bed.

Bored customers simulate bored living as they pause to rest on the showroom furniture to discuss intimate details of their furnishing prerequisites. Their conversations are lost to the noise of tannoy instructions, screaming children, intermittent slapping and the slamming of laminate cupboards being tested for durability.

the landscape

The floor a barren, cracked and scarred concrete, interspersed with wire cages filled with vast numbers of tea towels, bottle openers and ice cube trays.
The aisles between cargoes are strewn with abandoned trolleys. Their bare structures suggest a desertscape of carcasses stripped by vultures and bleached by glaring fluorescent lights.

I feel like a flaneur lost in a vast Kerouac landscape.

Gradually the warehouse opens up into a canyon view with towering piles of flat packs. Large signs announce SELF SERVE
and people help themselves to the cardboard building blocks.
Their faces looking like they never really comprehended
the promises made upstairs of civilized, happy and harmonious living. Ubiquitous grim determination perhaps suggests that they never really needed them.

As we queue
at the tills
a final insult.
signs that swing
above our heads
that at least
one person
working here
has managed
to retain their
sense of humour.

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