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A Man of Yet a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison


Dorothy shrieked and leapt from her armchair.

She and her husband stared at the offending item of furniture and noted the sharp metal point of a fractured spring protruding through the fabric of the seat.

‘It’s time to get new furniture,’ concluded George, surveying their front room.

Familiarity with the surroundings had obscured their antiquity. The spring’s sudden emergence brought the other torn material and damaged woodwork into sharp focus.

‘We can’t afford it,’ said Dorothy. ‘Thirty years ago, when we bought all this stuff, we were in our sixties. We thought it would see us out.’ She tutted. ‘We haven’t got the money to replace it, now.’

‘There may be a way,’ said George. ‘You know that store they advertise on the telly that builds furniture to your own specifications?’

‘What about it?’

‘Well, they offer five years free credit and then four more years to pay.’ He counted on his fingers. ‘I’m ninety-five, so if we buy it all in my name, I might be dead before any payments need to be made. I’m certainly not likely to last for the whole repayment period, so there shouldn’t be any need to pay the lot.’

‘They want ten percent deposit,’ noted Dorothy, ‘and,’ she glanced around the room, ‘we’d have to find cash to get this lot taken away.’

George thought for a moment, then stood up and left the room. He returned with a saw.

‘What are you going to do with that?’ enquired his wife.

‘Ah ha,’ he replied, starting to saw six inches off a leg of the coffee table. Dorothy watched as he removed a similar length from the other three legs. ‘We can burn this furniture and fund the deposit from the money we save on coal,’ George announced, placing one of the leg off-cuts onto the fire.

‘That’s clever, dear,’ concluded Dorothy. ‘Although we’ll need to keep using it all until we can order the new stuff.’

‘That’s why I cut the same length off each table leg,’ said George, tapping his nose to emphasise his cunning. ‘We can stand things on it for a while yet.’

The following weeks required increasing ingenuity by Dorothy and George to sustain an adequate winter fuel supply while retaining a practical level of domestic functionality. Regular discussions as to which remaining parts of which items were most expendable, however, afforded opportunities to consider furniture design in an exceptionally detailed and discerning manner.

‘… and we don’t want arms on the sofa,’ said Dorothy to the salesman at the furniture warehouse. ‘It’s much more comfortable to lie out and put your feet over the end.’

‘… and we want the armchairs with front legs one inch shorter than the back legs,’ insisted George. ‘It makes it so much easier to get out of them.’

‘… and no doors on the cupboards,’ continued Dorothy. ‘There’s no point in having the bother of opening and closing them.’

‘… and legs no more than two inches long on the occasional tables,’ remembered George. ‘They’re hugely more versatile if you can use them on your lap, too.’ George inspected a shelving unit. ‘Is this wood well seasoned?’ he asked the salesman.’

‘Of course, sir. Why do you ask?’

George winked at Dorothy. ‘Oh, just in case we have a particularly cold winter.’