Tram C leaves from about 400 yards from our home and arrives about 500 yards from Ikea, so for small errands we can quite adequately go by tram. We needed 6 new dinner plates after the incident that shall not be mentioned, when half our everyday dinner plates went in all directions instead of into the dresser. Our current plates were a natty rich brown and a beige colour. Ikea continue to do the same plates, but not in the same colours.
So off I set with my rucksack for the plates and the inevitable batteries and wires that I would purchase, and a large Ikea blue bag for cushions and any other treasures I would purloin.
I checked the time when setting off and when arriving. About 45 minutes. You wouldn't do it much faster in a car. The biggest irritation is the need to wear your mask in the tram. Masks keep you very warm. Very warm indeed.
I found a trolley and set off into the interior. "You can't take a trolley upstairs." said the helpful security man on the door. "I'm staying downstairs", I reassured him, and entered the impenetrable maze, trying to ignore the signs saying things like "Have you said a last farewell to your loved ones?" "Does anyone know where you are in case of disappearance?" and "Set your phone to traceable".
You enter the ground floor by the checkouts and plunge into the dense undergrowth of the houseplant department. I knew there was a shortcut from there into the tableware section, but the door I found took me into lighting. Still, I needed wires so I noted where they were, then hunted for another door that would take me to tableware. What about that one? Ah no, storage. There was a plan hanging from the ceiling. It looked like the plan of a bus line and shows you where on your journey you are without detailing any of the twists and turns that got you in or that would, hopefully, get you out.
Some intense gazing enabled me to see where on the line I was and where I needed to go for tableware. I followed the arrows - backwards - does it count as following if it's backwards? I defied the arrows systematically and stubbornly until a mass of pots and pans announced my imminent arrival at tableware. Now, those plates...
You identify the exact type of plate by the name displayed - Gūttrøtt, or something similar. I spotted three colours - a pale blue, a dark colour that might have conceivably been brown and a pale colour that could have been anything really. Well pale blue would be no good, so I took 3 of each of the others.
No then, those wires. I got the cables I wanted and some batteries, and a good quality loudspeaker and almost bought a cajon, but instead took photos of it so our cajonistas could weight it up, then hied me off to find the cushions. Pat needed cushions. Firm ones. Most of the square cushions seemed rather flaccid to me, so I chose some small bolster style cushions and headed for the exit, back through the Amazonia section. It was there that I fell head over heels in love with a beautiful, dusky sanseveria. These robust plants have an invincible will to live and come in so many shades and - now - shapes. I could find no price, but any price was worth paying for this beauty - I had to have it! (Well, any prise that Ikea are likely to charge for a medium sized houseplant...)
The fast tills are for those with up to 15 items. I counted mine. The houseplant was number 16. Oh, alas! I would have to go to a slow, manned till with a physically distanced queue.
Physically distanced queues are something new and daunting. There can be hardly anyone waiting but the queue stretches far out of sight. I was bahind a young couple buying large and heavy garden furniture and in front of a young chap buying some chocolate. Did he not know about the fast tills? Anyway I showed him how slow a slow till could really get, taking ages to sort out what went in which bag and making sure my houseplant could not be crushed.
Ikea blue bags are carefully designed so that if I carry them by the short handles all my purchases get crushed (NOOOO!!!!!!!!!) and if I carry them by the long handles the bag bounces on the floor as I walk.
Fine. Bounce then.
One nice thing about our tram journey is that I was pretty sure of getting a seat. I waited happily, listening to Emma Kirkby singing arie antiche, until everyone started leaving the tram stop. There was a breakdown all along line C. The city transport app insisted I take tram C, but I knew that bus 15 to Victoire, followed by bus 11 would get me home just as well, though m-u-c-h slower. There would be buses of relay, but they were being put in place. That could take a while.
Without further ado - there has been plenty of ado so far, has there not - my journey home took twice as long, but now the plates are getting their first wash, the cushions are supporting the wifely back, the speaker has blasted out a brief moment of Bartlett and the sanseveria is sitting with his cousins on the balcony after getting a good watering.