…And that’s why if there ever was a shopping competition between Proust and Paddington, the bear would win!

You’ve got to wonder what Proust would make of today’s world. Just imagine, if, fed up of his perpetual bedroom anxieties and the horror of those violet curtains, he decided to go to Ikea.

Personally, I think it might all be a bit overwhelming for him, seeing each perfectly formed and furnished scandi-bubble display room waiting to entice the sleep-deprived to part with their money. He might have a quick check to see if anyone was looking, then climb into a bed – not the one with the cheval-mirror dressing-table in the corner, he wasn’t fond of those – and see whether it had all the necessary qualities to create the perfect nest.


Now, for some reason, that reminds me of when Paddington Bear visited Barkridges department store. Before buying some new pyjamas, he found a particularly inviting bed and decided to give them a test run, unaware that the bed was part of the Barkridges window display. He drew a huge crowd, but managed to evade trouble because his antics caused pyjama sales to rocket.

I fear Proust might not be so lucky, being a grown man, rather than a loveable, if accident prone, bear from darkest Peru. I doubt the staff would look kindly on someone messing up the bedding, especially as they’ll be burdened with the task of restoring order. There might be an announcement over the tannoy, or worse, he might get escorted out before he’s had the opportunity to seek solace in a plate of Swedish meatballs or gravalax.

Even if his bed-nesting did go unnoticed, I don’t think he’d manage to choose any furniture to buy. Being such a creature of habit, and slow to adjust to change, the effort involved in introducing and integrating a new item into his room might prove too much. So, apart from the obligatory pack of tealights and a washing-up brush shaped like a jubilant squirrel, he’d leave with nothing.