Provenance of stuff

When my husband ran an AirBnb from home the listing mentioned our pictures and artefacts having a tale to tell.

Before I emigrated to Australia my dear Australian friend P.M.S formerly P.M.M caught up with me in the UK. We visited one of my early boyfriend’s parents, Hazel and Bill in Solihull.

As a naive 20 year old from a working class family, north of the borough, Birmingham, I knew my place as their social inferior.

My trips to see them usually involved the upmost politeness and decorum. I felt common and clumsy in their presence. I would sit in the same place on the sculpted green draylon sofa, the same spot where I was shown to sit, the first time I met them. I was introduced as a ‘friend’ of their son.

I would not dream of wandering about the hallowed halls of their abode or handling the ornaments and family pictures on the mantle piece.

I vaguely recall P. and I dining with them. I vividly remember my anxiety levels stepping up from mildly uncomfortable to extremely stressed with each step P. took around the lounge room, picking up the objet d’arts for a closer inspection and quizzing the hosts on who the silver framed smiling faces were.

P. and I had many exciting adventures together including a few trips to Liberty of London.

It was love at first sight when I saw a dark polished timber, queen sized sleigh bed with octagonal cane infill panelled head and foot boards. We agreed it was truely a piece of furniture to aspire to.

In one of the sales, I bought two table lamps, one with a very 1980’s silhouette; wide shouldered and narrow bottom in an off-white glaze flecked with apricot and green. The other, a ginger jar shape with an orange peel texture in dark apricot. Both had lift off coolie shaped narrow pleated cream silk shades, tops and bottoms trimmed with velvet; trés glam!

We still have the latter of the two lamp bases pictured above. I refinished it with acrylic paint during my gilding phase in the early 2000s. Paired with a gold foil lined black shade it anchors the French Empire themed dining tableau.

Getting back

Having a subconscious tie tugging me to a phantom, idealised bucolic life led me to believe this was my destiny.

Because of their scale, towns and cities have the appeal of inclusivity and freedom. In reality, more residents are squashed into a smaller area.

The increasing cost of living is so high that a weekly night out on the tiles is beyond the grasp of those with modest means.

Around a decade ago, I looked into buying a block of land in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland hinterland. It was large enough to build our own home. Unfortunately, the distance from a large urban area and requisite workplace remained too far away.

We purchase the ‘swan’ chairs on a whim in 1999 from an over the top furniture shop on the fringe of Double Bay, Sydney. They have gold finished frames, Sensuede seats and Teflon coated French silk backs. Like most things in our life they have patina. Reminding us of happy gatherings of friends and family.

Instead we opted for somewhere within one hour public transport commuting distance of Brisbane. There is an added bonus of a huge nature conservation area literally across the road.

Within our humble dwelling, a long held grandiose idea of a French Empire themed dining room has miraculously manifested in a not too shabby area of the kitchen.

The table extends to seat eight to ten people. Prior to the move it stood on end sans legs for five years on the landing of the townhouse.

While searching, one of the requirements of the new house was space enough to accommodate the dining table.