The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Taste

bronze frogs on a lily leafEveryone thinks that they have good taste.

In terms of the way things look, rather than the message from the tongue.

One of my first boyfriends was Persian (it was that long ago). He looked sultry in a simple black dishdashah and unusual in a suit. He was the only person that I have met in my life that admitted a deficiency in the taste department. Doe eyed he turned to me one evening.
“My problem, Fiona, is that I have no taste. I love this two inch dog tooth check that has people screaming in horror. Please accompany me to town tomorrow and choose me some clothes.”

I tend to go for classics. We spent a happy afternoon kitting him out. Money was no object, he just wanted a conventional English look. We ruffled through everything from boxers and elegant socks to suits and the sleek cashmere overcoat that enveloped the lot. Giant dogtooth check was banned but he chose some fun ties. I admired him for knowing himself and finding a way to get the look that he wanted.

The Persian eyes that could change to a tiger’s in a trice were soft during the taxi ride home. We didn’t stay together for much longer. I often wonder whether he was happy in those clothes and also what happened to him. At thirty he was too old for me. A physicist who played Bridge in his lunch hour. As a late developer I was just begining to win at snap.

Taste is so subtle. The cupid lamps can look great in a gothic hallway and revoltingly kitsch in a boudoir. Today taste has opened out to a very large field. People are no longer thumbing through “The Sloane Ranger Handbook” for hints. Everything goes – up to a point, if you have the confidence to carry it off.

The crew on a building team are the bitchiest of all when it comes to a client’s taste.
“What did you think of the library?”
“Great for five a side football but those windows have been fitted so badly. Do you think X did them? And the curtains just don’t work.”
“I didn’t like the curtains but it was mainly the tie backs and the pleats!”
“Frou frou nonsense.”
“It must be down to her.”
The male client generally seems to be preferred by those men in boiler suits that drink your tea and eat your biscuits. They do have an eye. Having been in so many houses they know instinctively what works.

I am fairly conventional in terms of the way the cottage looks. Old stuff, injections of Ikea, house sales and a lot of little bits and bobs that drive Danny nuts.
“Do we really need all these frogs on the kitchen windowsill? They keep on dropping into the sink.”

When he saw the frogs in the lily leaf boat for sale in the flea market at Lake Como he wanted them.
“Let’s buy the frogs.”
For once he met me in ‘not buy mode.’
“We’ve just got so much stuff already.”
“But these are special.”

No one really needs their collections of frogs, curtain tie backs, libraries of books, frou frou frills but each of these satisfies a part of the person that chooses them. And if the overall effect works that’s good enough for me.

We bought the Como frogs. They live on the windowsill behind the sink with the other frogs and give me pleasure most days. Danny doesn’t care for possessions so deep down inside I know that D bought them for me. And I love them.


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2 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi TCL

    Your house is filled with wonderful things!

    I’m so pleased that you have a doll’s house. I have one too but filled with the bathroom overflow at present.

    My sister collected Victorian doll’s house furniture as a child. Superb stuff sadly all sold now.

  2. The Chicken Lady.

    I love things, and as you know we have quite a lot of ‘stuff’ but I can honestly say that we know where it all came from, and each item has a memory or story. I love filling my home with things we love, I even have a dolls house which I haved filled with stuff.

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