I have bought a beautiful new sofa for the drawing room, as the Winchester ones are too big. It is late 19th Century, Howard and Sons and has been recovered, in recent decades, in an William Morris weave fabric that dates from the 1860’s, so exactly when the crenelated drawing room was being built.
Now it’s home, I wonder if we should sit on it? The weave has been rubbed by many legs to a slightly frayed surface. Should have a loose cover made to protect it from further decline and then never see this lovely fabric? The upholstery though, is blissfully comfortable, the cushions stuffed with down. I would like to sink into it, whisky to hand and light up, if such things were still allowed in this best of all possible worlds. Certainly, such behaviour and such furniture would not be allowed in our Winchester home (still not sold, although someone is hovering around it in a complicated way), where our lives have been run by our long-standing housekeeper, Barbara. She has waged war on dirt and germs for us for 12 years and is eyeing the sofa sceptically and ‘looking forward to seeing the old thing recovered’. She won’t move to the Island with us, so it will be sad to say goodbye to an old friend, but on the up side, an exciting new life of filth awaits us.
Apart from potential denizens living in the down, another downside of the thing is that it has thrown my colour scheme out and I am a sucker for organising colour . The tiles in the fireplace are delft and I was going with this pale blue as many of my Winchester ingredients fitted it perfectly, including my old dining room curtains. Here it all is in a picture I took for my daughters entitled, ‘Does this go?’. Although the greeny- teal of the sofa strictly doesn’t, I am taking a leaf out of my old friend Christopher Howe’s book, he throws it all together and it looks perfect. Insouciance is the key.
Elsewhere in the house internal walls are disappearing: a partition that had cut the landing in two creating a confusing pokey space and an unusable bedroom and an early 20th Century glazed partition that created an extremely dubious internal bathroom. This, strangely has resulted in a smaller, simpler house, which I suppose in terms of living with filth, means there’s less of it.