Thursday, 6 January 2022

A year in review: Furniture and fittings, part six

This memorial contains almost a month’s worth of parts – though not all of ‘em are about my house! – and the post you’re reading is the thirteenth in the series. 

On the Monday – 26 April – I went to K-Mart and while there I bought a towel rack. When I got home and started to put it together – you use a supplied Allen key and screws – I found the kit to be missing a rod. I put the thing back in the car and returned along Botany Road to the shopping centre, got a refund – the sales clerk was sympathetic as I’d omitted to bring the right receipt, having grabbed, in my rush out the door, a Harris Farm receipt lying on the kitchen counter – and drove home on the Eastern Distributor (I couldn’t, again, stand the traffic, and swallowed the toll). 

Kmart didn’t have any more of the product in stock and though I promised myself to check again next time I went to the store I ended up finding a different towel rack listed for $5 on Facebook Marketplace. The Kmart one was $25, and to save money I only had to drive to Rose Bay – on the 27th heading along Cleveland Street and Old South Head Road – to meet a young woman who made sure proceedings sat skewwhiff by keeping me waiting for 15 minutes. She excused herself by saying she’d been busy working to the point in time when I’d arrived in her street. I didn’t speak up to help her and avoided remarking that since it wasn’t routine for me to drive to her place my timing might be expected to be slightly off, though in the end she apologised when I took the towel rail she brought out of her garage on a street crowded with parked cars.

In the afternoon I again got on Facebook Marketplace to do a search, conscious of myself as it seemed I couldn’t do without the adrenaline rush given by a bargain. This time an outdoor table for which I located a couple of likely listings before enquiring about a wooden one that’d seat eight. The owner – John – called me on my mobile when I dropped my number into Messenger’s chat box, offering to bring it out with his trailer. He warned against trying to put the thing on my RAV4’s roof racks – he said his son has a RAV4 (I initially doubted this claim but came to believe it was true after meeting the man, who seemed entirely credible) – and I agreed to pay a $40 delivery fee on top of an $180 charge for the item, which came with eight chairs. Straight away I got off the computer and walked down the street to visit the ATM and withdraw banknotes, snapping on the way a photo of the body of a dead magpie on the pavement.

John lives near Campbelltown and just after 7pm brought over the table and chairs, helped me carry them inside, and together we put them out the back on the deck next to the pool. The trailer indispensable as the table weighs a ton and couldn’t have been transported with my car. 

By placing it square in the opening we just managed to squeeze it through the gate, though it easily went through the front door. We got the move completed with judicious wriggling through gaps, balancing on edges, and by making slow progress up the front steps. In his professional life, John looks after people’s money with managed funds and had moved to Campbelltown from Chifley, which is just down the street from me. He’d never move back, he said. “It’s a rat race around here.”

On the Wednesday morning I took a screwdriver, along with a couple of packets of screws from my hardware drawer, and went out onto the deck. With a wood screw from my collection I secured in place a buttressing rod, and used the screwdriver to tighten up several other screws that had worked loose from their grooves. I put out the new chairs and, alone and unencumbered by opinion, admired the setting, counterintuitively savouring in its absence the promise of conviviality. I just needed friends to complete a congenial tableau familiar to many from countless magazine spreads and those entertaining segments on TV home improvement shows where at the program’s end a reveal opens to surprised occupants new areas to enjoy with meals and conversation. Writing this memorial I’m mindful of the Macquarie Bank ad where a family entertains outside around a swimming pool: three generations in one place. One day, I said to myself, I’d cook something for lunch and have people over, something that could be done, if it was fine out, even in spring or autumn. I sent a photo of the setting to John and he replied, “Looks fantastic glad they went to you.” “This is a nice table,” said Ming when she saw it the next day. I sent a photo to my cousin and he asked when we should have lunch.

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