I write to you from the most outrageous den of comfort and cushioned luxury I could imagine. A large, overstated, marginally eighties dark leather sofa, it smells like a gentlemen’s club but has all the charms of a first-class airline recliner at each end.
It is a behemoth of a sofa, a creature of comfort and sloth. You sit down on it and pull some masonic lever somewhere and your behind heads horizontal at the most alarming rate, a leather footstool appearing only just in time, to break your fall in the manner of James Bond himself.
If this sofa were a dance, it would be the tango. The Last one. But in London.
Tasteful? Sartorially appropriate? I would argue we just about get away with it. Eighties is becoming vintage, for Pete’s sake. And my sitting room is beginning to look like something out of a hotel in a set for Miami Vice.
For we have not one of these sofas, but two.
A long, long time ago, when the house remodellers first came to stay at our house, we skipped around happily envisaging a stay of, ooh, three weeks, tops. We had better get some new upholstery, darling! we chirruped joyously to each other, and skipped off to the local department store in search of settees which would fit our pockets, but not necessarily fit in them.
The local department store has an odds-and-ends bit. You know, where they sell off the unsellable-offable, but cheaply.
My husband loves the sensibly priced, and I am not averse to it. And there in the window, back in those halcyon days, gleamed wonder-sofa; a thing of soft dark curves which squawked slightly when you sat on it like a parrot with umbridge. It looked, well, big, and expensive.
But it was not until you sat on it that it began to weave its Crockett-and-Tubbs enchantment. To park on it was to desire it. Like an Odyssean temptress it closed round and enfolded us in leather and luxury, until we lost all inclination to do anything or go anywhere. All that mattered was us; us and the sofa.
“We’ll take two,” my husband pronounced decisively.
Two? I gulped. These were the huge beasts of the sofa world. Would they not dwarf our tiny English sitting room?
That was two months ago.
The remodellers are still here. Still. But we did arrive back from holiday to find an expanse of beautiful pale tiles in our living room so that, just for a second, we could fancy ourselves in Provence. We gloried in the space, and eagerly awaited the arrival of the wonder-sofas.
Today they were delivered.
I arrived home from the dog walk to find that great open paved space filled by dark leather. The sofas loomed. There is no other word for it. If a sofa can be menacing, these matched the description perfectly.
Gingerly. just like a girl, I began inching them into their prescribed space in front of the window.
And the daylight switched off. I think they actually ate the light. Suddenly it was dark in the room and I was forced to conclude that light-hungry sofas should not be indulged. They get fat and complacent. They let themselves go.
Half an hour of sofa-shoving later, they had been banished to two perimeter walls, and I could see the light and the floor again.
And I blinked, and there was a small boy reclining decadently with a laptop on one of them.
Where did Felix come from? I wondered briefly. And with such speed! And he looked as though he had never sat anywhere else in his life, as if he belongs there on the leather Odyssean mythical Miami Vice sofa.
That evening, everyone had their own luxury leather recliner and sat, in preposterous upholstery, surveying the television.
And then the dog walked in.
Where’s mine? he emanated.
Alas, poor doggie. I would rather enter the roasting portals of Hades than let the dog on these sofas.
The dog sulked. Palpably. And so Phil wheeled the final leather chair – one destined for upstairs – next to the super-sofas, and the dog jumped up happily.
And fell, instantly, asleep.