With the recent extravagant arrival of a lovely big parcel…its contents decidedly un-green (by which I refer to the eco definition) but chosen with the colour most certainly in mind….I’ve been motivated to get on with completing our olive-hued lounge. The room has, for months now, sat patiently as templates representing a number of frames within my charity shop collection have been swapped this way and that. The TV still sits precariously on a white Ikea media table too small for its generously plasma-ed proportions and the ‘cosy armchair corner’ has had both the armchair and the corner in its favour but the ‘cosy’ most definitely amiss. So it was with some excitement that I delved into the giant box to extract the web purchases from within.
First out was a rug (patterned and large in homage to the Abigail Ahern advice I read on a daily basis) to anchor the coffee table, sofa and two armchairs within the room. Second came a circular side table which appears to do as she promised it would and ‘break up all the rectangular lines’. With pattern once again introduced by its gilded iron fretwork it sits nestling against the leather armchair providing a resting place for a pile of books, plant and in all probability a glass (or two) of wine. Thirdly came a pack of vintage inspired maps….authentically vintage would be better but seeing as my planned trip to Ardingly seems like it’s never gonna happen, the dates clashing on a monthly basis with other commitments, these will have to do for now. Last but most definitely not least came a poster planned for an above-the-sideboard composition featuring a stag in a party hat….chosen in truth to itch the scratch of my stag obsession but also in a calculated continuation of the yellow accent colour onto the wall (added to that its pairing with an image of a deer hunter’s cap amused me …no one else will get the joke but I’m tickled!)
Spurred on by the feeling that the lounge was starting to come together a trip to Ikea soon followed where a wicker basket was selected for the other side of the armchair (I’m thinking of either filling it with useless logs or useful blankets) and a sheepskin throw was purchased to add a bit of texture and, well, comfort to the rock hard EBay (ahem…..from Ikea too actually) chair. A final flourish, this time from B&Q, was a large plant to help mask the dubiously coloured tiles of the fireplace (and a replacement little one for the circular table….the original having already been killed within days by my over-attentive watering….. )
I surveyed the room with satisfaction. So far so homely.
Said stag obstinately refused to fit any of my chosen frames meaning a visit to the framers, where mounting board could be carefully cut to size, was called for.
Generally I try, since my last humiliating experience, to avoid framers and their regularly proffered opinions at all costs. Those near us seem in the luxurious position of being able to conduct their business as a hobby offering local image-collecting fools such as I both sneers and high prices in abundance. Perhaps the solution is to get acquainted with passepartout and a Stanley knife myself but trepidation combined with an urge to get my new snug poster collection and a set of commemorative London 2012 Paul Smith stamps finally on the walls (its only been two years after all….) sooner rather than any later won me over. We are, at least, in the privileged position of having not one but two snooty framers in our London ‘village’ so with a jumble of posters, tubes and deconstructed junk-shop frames hooked under my arm and haunted by my previous experience with Frame Shop 1 I decided to plump for Number 2 and pushed open the door.
The jangle of a bell designed to alert the proprietor to my presence did no such thing. Nor, it seemed, did the sight or sound of me maneuvering my awkwardly shaped bundle into the triangular squeeze of his shop. His casual chatter continued without so much as a glance my way whilst I negotiated a clumsy path around him and his two friends. I waited, shifting items from one arm to the other until finally the conversation drew to a close.
“Well you must give her my love. It’s been really nice seeing you again…..” and with another jangle and a wave his friends departed. Closing the door carefully behind them he made his way slowly back towards his desk. Passing me en route his eyebrows acknowledged me with a raise.
“That looks like a framing job?” he remarked as, settling into his chair, he proceeded to study the screen of a laptop in front of him. Lazy strains of jazz coming from an old radio in the corner accompanied the ungainly depositing of my armload on the chair opposite.
“It is.” I tried a smile. “I take it I’m in the right place?”
He looked up.
“What have we got?”
“The easy one first…” I began and lay the stag out on the desk as reluctantly he scooted his laptop up an inch. “I’d just like mounting card cut for this.”
Extracting some L shaped card from beneath the desk he laid it against the poster.
“I think its this” he said. I nodded. “And the frame?” he asked.
“This one” I gestured to the old frame laying in pieces on the desk and placed a bag of fixings atop it.
“You want us to put it back together afterwards?” he asked disbelievingly.
“Yes please. I mean. I can do it but the bits are all here….”
“That’s fine” and with an audible sigh he took a receipt book from a drawer and began to make notes.
“White mount. Frame re-assembled….” He murmured before pausing suddenly and looking up.
“It costs” he said “to do it. But we can.”
“Right. Well. Ok…..”
“Next?” he interrupted sharply before I could change my mind.
“Um….these.” I said laying the collection of stamps out on top of the stag. “……I was thinking white frames? So the colours of the stamps stand out?”
The proprietor, clearly more appreciative of these than my cheap and cheerful stag, nodded his agreement before making a few more notes. “White frames…..white mount as before…….seven stamps……right.” He looked up. “Is there more?”
“These posters…” I said pulling them from their cardboard tube as he, with a show of his hand signalling me to pause, picked up each of the stamps and with surprising tenderness wrapped them carefully in tissue paper.
“Do you have a moment or are you in a rush?” he asked eventually when all were safely enshrouded.
“Um, I’m not in a rush….” I said hesitantly.
“Do you mind if I check something?” he asked and manoeuvring himself back behind his desk he resumed his intent study of the laptop before him.
I nodded bemused and began a leisurely stroll around his bijoux gallery.
“I’m checking an auction” he said finally in explanation, eyes glued to the screen.
“Ah” I said as my short circuit deposited me back at his desk. “I’ve a friend” I continued conspiratorially “who uses one of those sniping sites to place a bid at the last minute. I’ve never tried it but she says it works.”
His eyes flicked up at me, his nose and glasses remaining steadfastly affixed to the screen.
“Yes.” I nodded eagerly, “for EBay.”
“Ah yes. Ebay” he replied slowly. “This” he looked up “is Christies.”
“And” he said, eyes returning to the action “we’re talking thousands.”
“Oh” I said again.
There was a pause.
“I’ve taken to buying things I love” he continued eventually as he clicked. “Saying that….my customers tend to love them too. As investments. Pensions are so bad I figure this is a good alternative. So I buy things. I’m bidding now.”
He spun the laptop in my direction displaying a video of an auctioneer, gavel in hand, addressing the room.
“Is it live?” I asked, fascinated.
“Yes. It’s happening now. I’m bidding against real people. Right now.”
“Are you disciplined?” I asked “do you keep to your budget or do you get swayed by it all?”
“Well…the trouble is” he admitted “when you are up against some people they don’t know anything about what they are buying …..they just buy and it puts the price right up. Anyway…..ok,” he clicked. “Let’s continue.”
We sorted the posters fairly quickly and he made further notes before warning me the gallery would be closed for Easter.
“That’s fine” I said “but if you could give me an idea of price for it all I can start applying for a remortgage….. ”
“It is a lot” he warned “but you’ll know as soon as I do” and with that I thanked him and left.
Meanwhile my lounge makeover busily continued. A plaster head, picked up by S in a market years ago, has been knocking about the place for the last few months as I considered where might be its best home.
“Would you mind if I painted it?” I asked S “I thought it might look good in that corner in the lounge if it was bronze rather than white.”
He didn’t mind so off I went in search of bronze metallic paint. The transformation was quick…..a couple of sprayed coats of the metallic bronze and some gold highlights on his nose, lips and eyes and his makeover was done. I positioned him on the armchair in the hope that my drill brandishing husband might fix him to the wall above it.
“Looks good pet” said S appreciatively.
“I don’t like that man” countered O.
Later S asked the question me and my templates had been waiting to hear.
“Do you want me to put these pictures up this weekend, pet?”
“Oh yes please….” I’d responded.
The drill came out, the laser marker was set up and the frustration began.
“You want this here?” He picked up the newly suntanned face.
“Problem is its facing the wrong way…”
“Oh I don’t think so….I kind of like that its in profile….but it might be a little bit too high?”
“No it’s not”
“Do you not think so?”
“No I don’t”
“Are you saying that as you really don’t think so or because you don’t want to move it?”
“I don’t think its too high but if you do move it then you have to fill the holes and then paint…”
“Ok” I resigned
“So this one….” He said hefting a huge photo against the wall, “Tell me how high”
“Um. Yes. I think that’s good…”
“Once its up its staying….” He warned.
“Ok. Yes. I think its good.”
The picture was hung. I looked. I wasn’t sure.
He turned his attention to the sideboard composition and the mirror and two photos went up. A call to dinner halted more action.
That evening as I nestled down in the crook of his arm for our nightly fix of Borgen my eyes wandered around the chaos of the room….drills, lasers and toolboxes laying in wait for another rare pocket of spare time.
“I think” I whispered tentatively “I might ask you to move that photo to the other side…”
S was silent.
“You. Are. A. Nightmare.” he said eventually.
Later that week the phone rang. It was the frame shop. “We are shut now for a few days and I’m in deepest darkest Kent.” said the proprietor “but I’m calling with your quote.”
Suffice to say the lounge remains in disarray. As does my bank account….