January 6, 2013
A room of one’s own with basic furniture.
This is what most of us yearn for. A kind of space that welcomes us without criticism or mouldy remarks. Better not to have anything in it as yet, but a chair might be considered as the basic and most essential piece of furniture to start off with. Old furniture talks and have stories to tell especially if one is used to spending days in solitude on own thoughts and remembrances.
A mistake that many make is buying new furniture. Of course new furniture is without stories and is best left to buy for those that are either, as yet, without stories or are unable to tell worthwhile stories. Much of new furniture have such unyieldingly hard materials, nothing ever can be taken in. Or never even, harsh as this might seem, leave a story worth telling. So, the dilemma is profound here; either risk stories from others on pre-loved aged furniture or no stories at all on new furniture.
Some years ago we inherited a comfy reclining chair which we used in our first room at King’s Cross. The seating part was quite low with soft kapok filled buttoned down dark brown cushions, both the seat and the backrest. It had a movable back that with the use of a brass rod could be moved forward or backwards by fitting this supporting rod in the groves of the arm rests at the back of the chair. The further back the rod the more the recline. It would not surprise me that those that recline the furthest down have the better stories to tell. Sitting up straight doesn’t encourage story telling. The lumbar and vertebrae are compressed and this blocks vital story telling nerves, just ask Sigmund. He knew a thing about the libido of women and free association without any hindrance, but…. always on a reclining couch. We all know that no stories are more riveting than those told from women who relax horizontally, especially if accompanied by a suitable noble-man smoking a Henry Winterman.
Freud was a great cigar smoker and indeed, understood its addiction but also thought it was a great surrogate for and from masturbation. “The one great habit,” he conceded to Carl Jung, never specifying which one it was.
The type of reclining chair that we bought was the same my father had throughout the years I lived at home. He would recline in it and smoke his Douwe Egberts, while his wife cooked the evening meal. He was a pensive man inclined to stare ahead of himself as if lost in his musings. He might just have been relishing his cigarette without wanting to spoil those moments with chatter or idle doodle-talk. The chair facilitated this pastime with perfection and curling rings of smoke was the very proof of it.. The angle of recline just right and I doubt there could have been a chair that would have better fulfilled the role of a man and his cigarette. On the right hand arm rest he would have an ashtray that invariably, but not always, would tip over on the floor when we ran amok past the chair. There were so many children then, and the house was small. This would upset my mother but did nothing to unbalance the equilibrium of dad and his cigarette ensconced in the chair. He would barely notice and just continue with yet another glorious puff.
Now-a-days, any story alluding to smoking could well be frowned upon, but… it used to be normal, let me tell you. I smoked myself, but not anymore. I am so much the better for it, or am I?