Deborah Ross: I'm sorry, there really is no alternative to Billy bookshelves

If you ask me
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The Independent Online

If you ask me, news that Ikea has overtaken John Lewis as the nation's favourite store means it is time this newspaper joined all the others in printing a tranche of Ikea facts and figures, as follows:

FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TWO MILLION people visited Ikea last year, and not one approached a store without an excess of existential dread in their heart, soul, and very bones.

ONE IN TEN children are, apparently, conceived in an Ikea bed which is absolutely fine until a couple of years later when, alas, they start to warp, nothing on them closes properly, and bits drop off.

NINETY EIGHT PER CENT of shoppers who veer from the approved Ikea in-store path thinking they can shortcut to the exit are still missing after 48 hours. (If you must veer from the approved path, make sure you have a torch, warm clothes, and a Thermos.)

The other TWO PER CENT find themselves back where they started, and will tell you: "Thinking there is a shortcut to the exit is for fools."

The average store visit always takes SEVENTEEN HOURS longer than anticipated and can end in the desire to: 1) put a gun in your mouth; 2) ram raid the storefront; 3) gouge out your own eyes with one of those little pencils; 4) purchase 800 tea lights for £1.

TWO BILLION meatballs are sold annually in Ikea stores to a secret recipe that may or may not consist of coating MDF with a meaty veneer.

ONE HUNDRED PER CENT of people who construct a bathroom cabinet upside down do not have the will to dismantle and start again, so live with it alongside the Post-It Note that says: "Open From Top!"

FEW people know the Allen key was invented by William G Allen in 1910, because he was a bugger.

Although MANY assume the smirking little stick man who appears all over the instructions is not real, he actually lives in Neasden with his stick lady wife whom he looks at disapprovingly and marks with a big cross whenever she does anything wrong. ("It is most tiring," she says. "I wish he'd pack it in".)

FORTY ONE MILLION Billy Bookcase units have been sold to date, which just goes to show our favourite interiors style may be best described as "Pitiful Sheep".

The big yellow bag is NOT the must-have bag of the season, Vogue has said.

ONE HUNDRED PER CENT of people who conceived a child on an Ikea bed now wish they hadn't. Indeed, as one mother told us: "I love my daughter, so it's heart-breaking to sit by and watch her warp and not close properly as bits drop off".

And she then added: "Frankly, I wish I'd gone to John Lewis and paid the extra."