Sunday, May 30, 2010

The chair again

The chair in no way relates to my new book, The Finger: A Handbook—an ideal gift, incidentally, for typists, harpists, pianists, erotomaniacs, iPad users, and public speakers much given to extravagant gesture—other than that from time to time in the old sitting-room at Number 18 various sets of digits drummed merrily on its slender arms, whilst lifting a small glass of dry sherry before Sunday lunch. But new information has come to light. Cisco thinks Mum had the chair re-covered in about 1968, which makes some sense to Pancho because the old fabric certainly reflects Helen’s taste for natural texture, muted color, and the overriding qualities of discretion and restraint. I can say with absolute confidence that Mum disapproved of oversized tropical parrot or hibiscus prints in daring colorways of aubergine, lilac, lemon yellow, and turquoise. Rich satins, brocades, and heavy oriental silks were equally dubious. There was a period of bold experimentation in the 1970s when Mum chose to hang mind-altering Marimekko curtains in the playroom, their wide, undulating, horizontal chocolate-brown-and-white stripes offering to her youngest son a difficult aesthetic backdrop in the earliest stages of puberty, though in that period modern Scandinavian design evidently gained traction among stronger personalities even than hers. Meanwhile, Cisco also confirms that the chair probably came to us from Nan and Pa, and that the 194968 fabric (of which there is no surviving scrap or remnant) was much dowdier, maybe a brown chintz—if not actually brown, then almost inevitably the whole-of-life psychic mustardy brownness conveyed by so many economical, non-spry chintzes of the mid to late 1940s. The Truncles may have more to say about this.

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