Monday, 30th October, 2023

[Day 1323]

After Meg and I had got ourselves up and breakfasted, we knew that we were going to have a little trip to a suburb of Birmingham called Moseley. Late yesterday, I had entered an eBay auction for a Captain’s Chair and in this I was successful in placing a winning bid with, as it happens, only 4 seconds to spare. I did go £1.30 over the limit I had made for myself but the pleasure of winning this bid against ten other bidders made this a small price to pay. I had arranged to get to the house in Moseley at 11.00 and the whole journey worked out incredibly smoothly until about 2 miles short of my destination when the entire route was blocked off due to tree felling. After a diversion, I ran into more tree-felling inspired road closures but got to the appointed address about 5 minutes before the agreed time. The seller was a really interesting guy and I could have tarried at his house a lot longer were it not for the fact that I had rather abandoned Meg in the front seat of the car and I did want to leave her too long. I enquired about the provenance of the chair and sellers had bought it some decades ago but understood it was made by one of the many furniture makers in High Wycombe. However, it did not have a maker’s name attached to it which would have pushed up the price I paid for it about 10 times. The seller very kindly helped me to get the chair into the boot of the car (useful as it happens as my back is still playing up a little) As soon as I got home, Meg and I enjoyed our delayed elevenses and I took some pleasure in giving the chair, constructed from both elmwood and beechwood, a once over. I have ordered some very specialised furniture reviving cream as sold to the antiques trade but this will take a day or so to arrive. In the meanwhile, I had downloaded some web-based materials provided by the cream manufacturers who indicated that very often in the case of furniture that needs to be revived, one has to remove some layers of dirt. The so called dirt is really just layers of dust accumulated over the decades and once this has been removed, the restoration process proper can start. In this I still have my supply of grade 0000 wire wool and beeswax and this will eventually be brought into use. What I have bought is technically called an ‘Edwardian smokers bow or captain’s chair’ so last night, I did some researches on the net to find out why this furniture is so called. It seems that the whole design of the chair is such that when is resting in the chair, the arms are such a convenient height to facilitate the smoking of one’s pipe! The ‘Captain’s chair’ bit is derived from the fact that these were generally better pieces of furniture designed for the captain or senior officers of a ship but the stout design and somewhat splayed legs helped to keep the whole chair stable when on a pitching or rolling ship. In my eagerness to get started, I did use some wet wipes advertised as being suitable for the most delicate skin of a baby and so I reasoned it should be fine for an initial treatment of the chair. I used several of these wipes and was quite surprised at the amount of surface ‘dirt’ that I did manage to remove. But this is a job that can only be done in hours of daylight as I don’t think you can fully appreciates the efforts of one’s labours except with the benefit of the best daylight illumination. All together, I intend to complete my restoration of this over several days and already have a couple of matching emerald green cushions that will fit its shape perfectly once the restoration is complete.

Meg and I had a wonderfully quiet afternoon, spending it all in the Music Room enjoying first our daily ration of ‘Outnumbered’, then a spell of the evidence being given to the COVID enquiry shown live on Sky News, then a David Attenborough,Planet Earth program with the afternoon ending with a rendition of Handel’s Messiah which is still playing as I blog. It used to be the case that there was a tradition in various Northern towns and cities that you turn up if you could vaguely sing and then a score of the Messiah was put in one’s hand. Having been allocated to the appropriate section of the mass choir, then off you went singing the Messiah with an assembly of hundreds if not thousands. I have never actually done this but I would love to have it done it at least once to savour the experience. Tomorrow, I will ask the most musical of the ‘old ladies gang’ when we meet in Waitrose cafeteria tomorrow if she has ever done anything like this and if, indeed, there is a tradition of doing this in the Midlands as well as in the North of England. Any rendition of The Messiah always makes me think of the Huddersfield Choral Society whose reputation was made on the back of their superb rendition of the oratorio. Being the first day after the clocks have gone back, it is a bit of a shock getting used to how quickly it appears to be getting dark as 5.00pm today is what was 6.00pm a day or so ago. We shall shall shortly be November which, for me, is a month with nothing to commend it at all but is just a month to be lived through (a characteristic shared with February in my estimation)