A Blog For Ellen week 7

A Blog For Ellen

Object #6 – Joszi’s Chair

Balloon-back chair, re-upholstered, used as cat scratching post


This is the chair my father sat on at his bureau, in the room we called the drawing room in the house where I grew up. I sit on it at my bureau in the corner of our front room, also known as the living room. The chair is not particularly comfortable, and the wrong height for writing on a laptop, as I do, or for bashing away on a typewriter, as my Dad did. The light was poor in Dad’s corner of the drawing room, and I sit in the darkest corner of my living room. It’s genetic.

I always identified the chair with my father but he came without furniture, so that’s only partially right. Before it was his, it was my mother’s grandmother’s on her father’s side. I had delusions of grandeur – can you blame me when we had bureaux (plural) and a drawing room? I thought we were fallen from the kind of stock that inhabited the novels I pulled off the shelves at home. It wasn’t a big leap for me to imagine myself as a Jane Austen heroine given my surroundings. That seemed normal. Not true.

Chances are, my great grandmother, or one of her parents, snapped it up in a sale in Ireland. That bit of the family managed railway hotels there. When the Anglo-Irish Big Houses were being sold off after the Land Acts, there were bargains to be had, if you had a keen eye, and needed a chair. Our beautiful thick white damask table linen, the sort a footman would unfold discreetly onto your lap for you, was probably from an Belfast hotel.

Our feral cat, Muffin, had a good scratch at the chair, and got her claws caught in the loops in the material. It’s a bit worm-eaten. The stuffing is coming out. I’ve found someone who will restuff it, de-creak it, and re-cover it. But I haven’t done it yet – I can’t justify the expense right now.

I think I hear my Dad in its creaks, but he is only a short chapter in its history. Turns out, I’m not a Jane Austen heroine, I’m from one of the families at which she shuddered.