He walked slowly about his flat, moving from room to room, thinking of what would be necessary to reform his flat completely. Starting in the drawing room, he looked at the large oriental carpet that dominated the centre of the room. It was said that some such carpets gained in value as the years went past, but he could not see this happening to his red Baluch carpet, which was beginning to look distinctly tattered at the edges. Then there was the furniture, and here there was no doubt that the chairs, if once they had been fashionable, no longer were. If there was furniture that spoke of its decade, then these chairs positively shouted the seventies, a period in which it was generally agreed design lost its way. It, he thought, would all have to be got rid of and replaced with the sort of furniture that he saw advertised in the weekend magazines of the newspapers. Timeless elegance was the claim made on behalf of such furniture, and timeless elegance, William thought, was exactly what he needed.
Our furniture, he reflected, says so much about us, and our tastes – perhaps more than we like to acknowledge. We may not like a piece of furniture now, but the awkward fact remains that we once were a person who liked it. And unlike clothes, which are jettisoned with passing fashion, furniture has a habit of staying with us, reminding us of tasteless stages of our lives. William looked at his settee; he had bought it at a furniture shop off the Tottenham Court Road – he remembered that much – but he would never buy something like that now. And certainly not in that colour. Did they still make mauve furniture, he wondered.
Alexander McCall Smith, The Dog Who Came In From The Cold
I have just finished reading this utterly delightful book sometime last week. It was my first taste of Alexander McCall Smith’s genius, and I was totally charmed! Starting with this excerpt found in the first chapter, I realised I was in for a real treat.
Will be sharing more of the delights that I found in the book in the next post.