Television: Let's chuck out the stuffy morals too

PETER YORK ON ADS NO 247: IKEA
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The Independent Culture
Ingvar the albino Swedish therapist - sky-blue polo neck; sandy, polycotton summer jacket; matching white belt and hair - believes we would all be better for being less English. He believes the heroic qualities which saw us through two world wars and Brief Encounter - pretension and repression - should be abandoned in favour of a more wibbly-wobbly, multi- cultural, polymorphously perverse, open-plan, future-facing style. The key to all this novelty is to embrace Ikea particle-board furniture with non-PVC foil finishes.

The English, says Ingvar, are living in an absurd, Merchant Ivory, repro country of the mind, one with dados and pelmets. They can't relate to other people, can't make friends (here - and can you credit this - Ingvar puts his hand on decent Englishman Tom's knee and licks his face. What vile degradations are to follow?)

In another treatment in the current Ikea campaign a suburban wifey explains tearfully how her nostalgic obsession - videos in cases done up like books - wasted her life through a longing to live in a 19th Century novel. She'd joined a chainsaw circus to give it all new meaning.

Now she's in a mild Reformed Modern, 1968 sitting room, sharing a sofa with a young black woman of robust appearance. You get my drift. Do I need to spell it out?

Cue Ingvar to explain that our obsession with history prevents us from being future-facing - there's that word again - in our lives. Ingvar has an interesting range of hand signals to emphasise these forward-looking insights - a sort of temple-dancers' swirl to suggest getting in touch with your feelings and air commas to frame "future-facing".

Time for us to throw off the absurd restraints of our national character, he urges, give up the recherche comedy of understated manners exemplified by such traditional figures as Chris Evans, Vanessa Feltz and Lily Savage, and fall into the warm, wet, squelchy styles of the new psychedelic movement.

This is the thin end of a nasty wedge. Ikea are trading on our tolerance to introduce a torrent of foreign filth and Sixties permissiveness. I don't know about "future-facing", but I know the sensibility of Camden Town when I see it. Does Ingvar have an up-to-date work permit? I think we should be told.

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