The table is, in many senses, unremarkable.
A dining room table is a dining room table. It would live in the dining room. One would dine at it. It has a certain post-war English style about it; I study it casually, taking in the craftsmanship and its history, but my mind is elsewhere.
The LTLP’s mother and father purchased it when they got married. It was – I guess – some financial undertaking for them. By no means well-off, they could easily have done with trays on the lap, sat in the lounge in front of the space where the telly would one day be introduced. But a decent dining room table was more than a piece of wood for eating on. With its purchase, they bought an object considered to be the heart of family life. An English dining room table. Respectability.
Decades later – a couple of years back – they gave it to us. Passed it on, down a generation.
We haven’t yet used it as a dining room table, not having a dining room an’ that. But its time is almost nigh. The farmhousey kitchen is almost complete – a space to chat, cook and dine whilst looking out on lupins and hollyhocks across the eighteen-inch windowsills. First dinner guests will, I guess, be the LTLP’s parents. Life is cruel like that.
The teak is smothered in dust from the building work, but there are no scratches to speak of. This is down to my bright idea of keeping it in the bedroom, safely away from the dripping plaster and flailing chisels of the Methodical Builder. Safe it has been, and safe it is.
I stand on the new area of floor, where the stairs previously wound their way up into the room at the foot of our bed. Now the staircase has been demolished and moved elsewhere; the narrow and ancient sub-five-foot high doorway on the bedroom’s South wall is the only means of access.
The Methodical Builder watches me as I hold my head in my hands, rocking slightly from side to side.
The table is safe. Because I have bricked it up in the bedroom.
It is smothered in dust, there are no scratches to speak of – but I now have to saw its legs off to get it out. Or eat dinner in the bedroom. But I would like to fit a bed in there at some point. I let out a long, long sigh; the table has survived recessions, conflict, removal men and builders, but has finally been defeated by the forces of fuckwitdom.
“Well it can stay there for now,” comments the Methodical Builder.
I stomp from the room and compose some words with which to break the news to the LTLP.