Thursday, February 22, 2007

Giftedness: the sweet spot

My friend's eyes lit up when he saw the chairs, so we asked him about them. These were chairs that had somehow tumbled down through the generations of my wife's family and ended up with us. He picked one up.

'Aw, this would have been made somewhere between 1860 and 1880. Mahogany? No: rosewood. Lovely. Balloon-back rosewood dining chair. Put a little bit of detergent in water and they'll come up lovely. Very easy to take apart, reglue, beautiful job, last you another 100 years.'

He picked up another.

'But this one, ugh, look, someone's put some screws in here.' (The screws too were probably antique). 'See, here too. Goes right through the tenon joint and splits it. Bodged job, no wonder it's unsteady. Probably was steady for about half an hour after they screwed it.'

'Can you fix it?'

'Oh yeah. But it's a lot more difficult.'

The original job for which we'd called him in (fitting some doors) was forgotten as he lifted and turned and scrutinized the antique chairs with something like love in his eyes.

What a wonderful world.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Famous for 15 seconds

Millions of British eyeballs and ears are glancing at the street next to mine as I write this. The person who mailed letter bombs over the past few weeks, lived, if the allegations are true, about thirty paces from my house.

Outside an hour ago, I saw three different reporters lining up in front of TV cameras, ready for the six o'clock news. and I watched a radio reporter filing her copy, which I am just hearing on the BBC. 'Neighbours are shocked', apparently.

You can tell who the journalists are, oddly enough, because they look young and normal and are unusually eager to catch your eye and engage in conversation. So next-door-but-one was interviewed by the TV, as was the teenage girl next door on the other side. I bumped into the Sun and a local stringer, while I was out taking photos. My wife Cordelia met a couple of others, and it is slightly wierd being able to go to the BBC website or the Daily Telegraph website (to name the only two I tried) and see photos of my estate. Coming back from a car trip, we had to pass a p0lice check-point to go to our house.