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’s hidden inside me?
What’s hidden inside you?