btw

I've had the Ikea experience. I've been there. I've been through their checkout and noted its resemblance to Hades - the crepuscular gloom, the dungeon lighting, the mile-long shuffling queue, the glum, sickly faces, the trolleys piled high with flat-pack cardboard units. It was horrible. But among the reports from the Battle of Edmonton ("It was dog- eat-dog on the North Circular Road," as one local put it), the people who fought over the sofas deserve our sympathy. Some flung their bodies onto the button-backed cushions and refused to leave until their right to own the sofa was acknowledged. But once they then got up, and seized one end of the three-seater to bear it away in triumph, nothing could stop another soft-furnishing zealot coming and lying down on the bloody thing, refusing to leave in his turn. Get off, you scumbag. No, you get off. It could have gone on for hours. You cannot, you see, manhandle a sofa through a checkout queue and stop interlopers sitting on it. I think the good people of Ikea have just identified a new definition of Hell.

The food world has been entranced for years by the experiments of Ferran Adri of Barcelona's El Bulli restaurant - his aerosol sprays that emit a fine mist of (genuine, edible) lemongrass, his little dumplings wrapped in what seems to be clingfilm but is in fact made of peas. But will the cuisine world beat a path to the Moto restaurant in Chicago, where the chef Homaru Cantu has invented whole meals made of paper? Crazy but true. He makes paper out of soya bean and potato, then prints onto it ink made of liquidised food. He's soon going to branch out into inkjet versions of pizza and curry. The inks, of course, can make a picture of exactly what you're eating. You just tear it out of the magazine in front of you and scoff it. Now if only Mr Cantu could do something similar with a picture of a gin and tonic...

Who says classical music must be formal and reverential? Not the crazy Swiss academy, that's for sure. At Lausanne University the industrial design department recently asked the world's leading designers to see if they could do something about the boring old conductor's baton. The designers seized the opportunity and re-invented the stick as a feather duster, a cigar, a giant cotton bud, a thermometer, an extremely long pencil, a pair of scissors, a Cinzano twizzle stick and a baguette loaf. The results go on show at London's Design Museum from Wednesday. I anticipate the appearance of all manner of amusingly-shaped long objects at this summer's Prom concerts

My friend Lucasta's four-year-old son, Oliver, has a uniquely enquiring mind. The other day, he asked his father: "Dad, does God make electricity?" His dad, striving to balance scientific accuracy with simple metaphysics, replied, "Well, I suppose you could say he creates the, ah, conditions in which electricity might be able to occur..." Oliver thought about it. "You mean, he makes the switches?" he asked.

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