by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

Swedish Home-Furnishing Manufacturers: Efficient But Deadly

Posted 31 December 2008 in by Catriona

Yes, yes: I know that tagline more properly belongs to the Swedish Mafia, but it’s thematically appropriate.

One present this Christmas was a lamp. A gorgeous red glass lamp from Sweden’s premier home-furnishing store.

As well as being gorgeous, it has been amusing me for days, because it has the most imperative instruction manual I’ve ever read.

(Yes: a lamp that comes in exactly two parts—base and shade—has an eight-page instruction manual telling me how to attach said two parts to one another. I love instruction manuals.)

It also comes with a helpful illustration:

I have a feeling that the expressions are the wrong way around: which expression would you be wearing while ringing Ikea to say, “Excuse me? Your table only has three legs. Why, yes: I do have my own allen key”?

But what really delights me is the primary instruction, which, in its English translation, reads as follows:

The external flexible cable or cord of this luminaire cannot be replaced; if the cord is damaged, the luminaire shall be destroyed.

Quick, Nick! Take the lamp out the back door—the Ikea Assassination Squad is here!

Why We Don't Buy Christmas Presents At The Two-Dollar Shop

Posted 26 December 2008 in by Catriona

We don’t, generally, because we’re a small family with a small pool of recipients—but the family has developed, by some strange sort of Christmas osmosis, the habit of adding what we call “the five-dollar present” to the main gift.

To add to that, my mother really enjoys anything that lights up and, for preference, makes an obnoxious noise. She the kind of woman who presses all the buttons in the toy section of Kmart.

(Something that Nick made me promise to stop doing, on pain of not coming shopping with me any more.)

So my brother and I wandered down to find something to add to Mam’s obnoxious Christmas orchestra, and found a jumping Santa playing the saxophone.

Brilliant, right?

Less brilliant that night, after my nephews figured out how to turn it on themselves—a jumping, singing Santa takes quite a while to become boring for a two-year-old and a four-year-old.

But they had fun singing, “Jump, jump, jump, ‘cause that’s what I do.”

It wasn’t until tonight that we heard the full lyrics:

Jump, jump, jump, ‘cause that’s what I do,
Jump, jump, jump, ‘cause I’m the Easter Bunny: it’s true.

Methinks Santa has been dipping a little too deep into the sherry.

Television: A Clear And Present Danger

Posted 13 December 2008 in by Catriona

Warning: Do not combine soft drinks and DVDs of Bill Bailey’s stand-up routines.

I know—it sounds like the ideal way to spend a horrifically muggy Saturday night.

But be warned: you may well find yourself aspirating Schweppes Traditional Lime while listening to a description of football players as “vain, illiterate, millionaire would-be rapists whose job it is to shepherd a piece of leather into an outdoor cupboard.”

This has, of course, never happened to me.

Ever.

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