Thursday 18th February
Remember, dear reader, the four-day challenge?
Four days to transform my apartment from an empty shell into an opulent and luxurious home… well a home anyway.
If God could make the earth in seven days, furnishing and equipping my gaff should be a piece of piss.
Except where does one start?
Ikea of course.
But like Saul on the road to Damascus, heading for the Malaga Ikea, I have an epiphany. It has been suggested that I should take a look in Muebles A. Benitez and, quite by chance, as I speed through Fuengirola, I see a sign directing me to their front door.
Two hours later, thanks to the very helpful Carlos, I have exactly what I need. My colour scheme — being colour-blind — may not be to everyone’s taste, but I think it will look great. The piece de resistance is the disco bed.
Best of all, they will deliver it all on Saturday, put it all together, remove all the packaging and stay until I am satisfied. Perfecto.
I celebrate by encouraging Sophie to kick sand in the face of a Brit DB9 on the exhilarating coastal A7 road back to Marbs.
Friday 19th February
And so… I just need kitchenware, sheets and towels now; plus pipe, slippers and dressing gowns.
El Cortes Ingles in Puerto Banus, David tells me, is the place to go.
15.30 and I’m parked in the underground car park searching for the entrance. This has got to be the largest underground car park in the world, and if you make the mistake of failing to note where you have parked you will never find your car again.
Inside it gets even worse. This has surely got to be the biggest store in the world. There are, I think, four floors, and each you could easily accommodate three Ikeas.
And this entire retailing adventure has been constructed — as the name would suggest — purely for the Brits.
It is John Lewis on steroids.
Eventually I find the kitchenware department where an elegant English speaking assistant works through the inventory David has kindly supplied, and hey presto, an hour later I have a shopping trolley full of everything I need as well as a shedload of stuff I’ll probably never use.
I break for a quick cuppa in the café, where Bernie & Natalia quaff champers and bicker over the colour of the towels for their third en-suite. I’d go for something to match Bernie’s toupee, I’m tempted to say.
I keep my counsel and, refreshed, attack the ‘bedding’ department.
Here, another store assistant helps me to fill a second trolley with sheets, towels, pillow cases, tea towels, dressing gowns, cuddly toys and so on.
It’s at this point that it dawns on me that I’ve now got one more shopping trolley than I can get home.
‘Do you deliver?’ I ask.
‘Of course… we can deliver tomorrow.’
Well… not quite. It appears that, despite the kitchenware and bedding departments being within spitting distance, marrying up the two purchases is not that straightforward. Eventually, after some internal discord, it is done and eventually I even manage to find my way back to my car.
Saturday 20th February.
I never want to see another piece of bubble wrap, sticker or an overly taped cardboard box again after today.
10.00 and the El Cortes Ingles delivery arrives.
10.02 and the Muebles A. Benitez delivery arrives.
In the mêlée that ensues I make the mistake of signing for receipt of the former without checking that it is all there. And as I begin to unpack the kitchenware while Pedro y Alberto ferry up my furniture, I have the nagging suspicion that something is missing.
12.00 This suspicion has now been confirmed — none of my ‘bedding’ purchases have been delivered. A trail of phone calls, commencing with Head Office and filtering down to the Puerto Banus store reveal nothing; my stuff has disappeared.
La desaparicion… el desastre.
I have a strong suspicion that it is still on the delivery van; ‘Guillermo y Ben’ who delivered the kitchen order… well let’s just say, sharper tools have been found in the box.
16.00 I nip to the Meeting Room for egg and chips and return to find Pedro y Alberto have finished. Okay, they’ve put a hole in the second bedroom wall with over enthusiastic drill use installing the disco lights on my headboard, and they could have tidied up a little better, but — by Christ — it’s done, and the place looks great. I tip them generously, and they deserve it. This would have taken me months to sort out.
16.30 A representative from El Cortes Ingles calls to tell me they’ve located my bedding — it is still on the van (no shit, Sherlock?) and will arrive shortly.
16.59 My bedding turns up. The more senior of the ‘two blunt tools’ waves a document for my signature under my nose; I respond by opening each box and checking that everything is present. Satisfied, I sign.
Tip? Get it right next time, amigo.
18.30 I survey my apartment.
18.31 I open a beer.