Sunday, 27 February 2011


Loyal Angelic supporters, of which there are a few, will know that coping with the building is an ever- pressing but constantly suppressed aspect of life here.  Now, in the WSJ no less, comes the word that it's such a  stylish way to live  people actually pay for the look.

Pictures propped against the walls as if the man hasn't yet come to hang them? Tick.

Distressed but once fine cloth upholstering the furniture?  Oh, see what Germans, cold, heat, and a Burman can do. Tick.

Walls scraped back to show how badly damaged are the once lovely, decorative affreschi?  It's 100 euros a square metre to get in the restorers so mostly it's me; anyway, I've grown to like the dappled look - and guests often pick at the edges of the over-painting to see what flower or bird is on the next bough, so it's a divertimento too. Tick.

Reading lights on the floor? Tick.

Cabinets and bookshelves dusty?  Tickety-boo.

Added to these signs of hidden wealth, the unwary here can enjoy the collapse of their chair  with the revelatory tunnelled-out-by-woodworm inner leg-workings and the pleasures of exculpation for confessing such a small sin - arrival of surprised person in big kitchen holding old  chair and pulverised leg(s):
 "Goodness, I'm sorry. What can I do?"
"Have a drink.  Are you alright?  Did you hurt yourself?  Perhaps you would take it down to the limonaia with you next time you're on the way to the garden - you'll find the others, waiting to go to the chair hospital."

The rich are missing a trick there - collapsing furniture.  But it's such a relief to know that every moment spent reading trashy novels,  looking out of the windows instead of washing them, or going out playing, has been contributing to status, not avoiding the housework.


Sackerson said...

I envy you, but especially for the Berman.

Elby the Beserk said...

"It's not a house, it's a home"

R. Zimmerman

hatfield girl said...

He's becoming a magnolia stellata S, and in this freezing, sleety morning, is covered in velvety buds waiting for the garden to be bathed in sunshine.

I wasn't here for the Germans, but there are some family stories of the commander of the whatever-it-was-line turning up in his long motor car to visit his Polish mistress who had been installed in the best bedroom , which precipitated rosaries for the girl's soul led by my Grandmother-in-law, barricaded on the next floor down.

I've certainly been here for the cold and the heat - nothing knocks it out of the furniture like those two baddies. Except for an American artillery barrage from the other side of the Arno - pity the place had been taken over by the English by then.

Raedwald said...

... and the dining table with no two matching chairs, and not one under a century old, the threadbare rugs carefully turned to hide the holes with pieces of furniture, the mice-chewed curtain hems of curtains on their fifth hanging and clocks that last worked when Victoria was on the throne. And you say fashionable people are paying for this? Where does one advertise?

hatfield girl said...

I do hope it's a home Elby. It's not a house, even though the Florentines insisted it be 'ridotto a villa'.

hatfield girl said...

The table we dine off does have matching chairs, R, but I brought it from England. The latest Italian dining table (of glowing cherry wood) is reduced to a single surface - and is used in the upstairs study. Its extensions and chairs went into the fires I imagine. Chair sets tend to degenerate into singles as the generations roll along, as did sets of books (fortunately mostly about long-forgotten religious controversies). The moths got the rugs (I wasn't quick enough on the beating-them-in-the-sunshine front) and any movable valuable like a clock was sold off in the struggle for survival in the face of 4000% inflation in the 1940s. The curtains must have fallen apart except for the drawn linen, which hang still in strategic windows (who wants the mayor looking in form across the road?).

The magnolia stellata in a previous incarnation did for the mice.

Nomad said...

Woodworm is such a treat!

Before Mrs N and I moved into our comfy little bungalow we completely refurbished it including total rewiring and re-plumbing. However, unknown to us, the naughty {note the restraint here!} contractors when renovating the ceiling in the spare bedroom installed a woodworm infested crossbeam - so about 5 years later it came crashing down on to the spare bed, which, fortunately, was empty at the time. That cost us a new beam and ceiling plus a contract to de-woodworm the rest of the building (which as it happened turned out to be completely free of the pest anyway, but we had to be sure).

Falling from a collapsed chair, whilst mildly to all concerned, is probably a lot safer than having the odd roof tile landing without warning in your coffee.

Nomad said...

.. mildly embarrassing..

Sorry HG, I really must learn to proofread properly before pushing the publish button.

Bill Quango MP said...

I have noticed a tendency in the houses of the elite for giant mirrors to be left leaning against the wall.

I assumed this was because a suitable plasma screen type wall mounting had not been purchased.

Now I know. Its fashion.

hatfield girl said...

N, write as you choose, I do.

Woodworm is not as bad a dry rot but it still brings the place down in the end. Some of the large beams that had to be replaced here were so hollowed-out the cats would run through them like tunnels and quite quickly they just mulched into the end of the garden.

hatfield girl said...

I've an enormous gilt and blackwood mirror with misty glass leaning against a wall, Mr Q. We must be even richer than I thought. The real problem is guilt about being incapable of drilling holes in the wall and putting in an appropriate rawlplug. But I can't - so I don't. So there's a lot of propped-up stuff about.

I'm hoping little piles of books on the stairs are the right thing to have as well, then I can sink back into winter torpor.

Odin's Raven said...

Reverting to a previous post about olives, here's something I just came across, about the supposed health benefits of eating olive leaves:

Perhaps, with a bit of fancy marketing and packaging you could have a fashionable product! Olive tea and olive salad, anyone?