My mother has a china cabinet at home. I still wonder why she refers to it as the ‘china cabinet’ when there’s no china in it. It’s full of Waterford glass and various trophies us kids won at school. I’ve never been a great lover of fine china; it’s always been a tad too delicate for my liking. I prefer good solid pottery like Kiltrea.
While the world may see me as solid, methinks I may just have an unacknowledged, deep-seated subconscious longing for it to recognise the delicate me. The manifestation of this inner conflict has been puzzling people for years. I remember, when working in the Bank in Dublin, walking in on a conversation where my male colleagues were trying to figure out why they felt driven to mind me – to look after me… after all, it wasn’t as if I was the delicate type.
I mentioned this in passing some years later to a mate of mine who flies jumbo jets for a living and he admitted that it used to bug him, too. There were other girls both of us knew who were half my size and, at first glance, a lot more delicate (in actual fact, most of them were as capable or even more capable of handling life than I am/was), and yet it was me he felt a compulsion to help…this puzzled him. After all, it wasn’t as if I was the delicate type. I haven’t thought about this in years and yet I’m now wondering if that’s what’s behind the sudden urge to buy a china cabinet and stock it with fine porcelain? Maybe the heady fumes of history are getting to me. On the other hand, it could simply be the fact that I’ve never had an Art Deco table to sit around and now I do and solid pottery just won’t cut it.
In any event, buying a china cabinet seemed like an excellent idea, particularly when one presented itself on the very same day I found my table. And, coincidentally, in the very same shop! Not quite a two-for-one deal or a buy-one-get-one-free; they’re not even the same style… but somehow they seem to go together.
It’s a Biedermeier, dahling! To think that just a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have known a Beidermeir from a Baroque. I was more an Ikea gal who climbed up a couple of rungs to Domus (the furniture arrives in one piece) and now finds herself shamelessly hobnobbing with relics of centuries past. And everything I know I learned from my mate JFW – the Biedermeier King. I finally get it, JFW: that inexplicable excitement that comes with finding the right piece for that spot or finding the right spot for that piece. It’s addictive. I’m already fighting a nagging worry about what I will do when it’s all over… when the flat is furnished… when I have no more reason to search… what then?
Look at the picture and then close your eyes. Imagine it full of china. A full dinner service with a light green pattern I think, perhaps with a gold edge to it and possibly even a matching tea service. I am secretly entertaining the hope that I will stumble across the perfect set of Hungarian Herend pottery in a job lot at some flea market and that no-one but me will realise what it actually is.
One can live in hope. Apparently John Paul II and Princess Diana both had some Herend in their china cabinets… they’d feel right at home at my gaff if I ever got the chance to invite the dead to tea. I wonder if Churchill had a fondness for it, too?