I visited a wonderful house yesterday evening, ostensibly for a business meeting to discuss the redesign of a website. Supper was part of the lure, and there was lots of good company and conversation too. I will try to describe the house and the people.
The house, at first sight, appeared to be a normal house in a respectable residential road in Putney. The books, however, started immediately. In the porch, in fact. Piles of them. The hall was lined with bookshelves, floor to ceiling in places, stuffed with books, nay, overflowing with books. Piles of the things lay everywhere. Up the stairs and as far as the eye could see. It was marvellous.
I was ushered into a room in the middle of the house. It looked like a kitchen (it had lino, a dresser, crockery, mugs, etc., and the fridge-freezer), a utility toom (ironing board and washing baskets), a library (lots more books and shelves), a study (desk, desk chair, paperwork, more books), a dining room (dining table, chairs, condiments, supper).
After a while of gazing around, I had to ask, "What do you call this room, then?"
"It's our living room, really, though we just call it the middle room."
The people were great too. My hostess was a dear old friend of my father's whom I have known since childhood. Also present was a friend of hers who "lives upstairs", an old boy from Essex who talked a lot (about the Royal Mail, and Singapore in the 1950s), and a very civilised chap from Brighton who didn't say much at all (he didn't get much chance, actually). There was an occasional call from the back room where my hostess's husband, who is sadly an invalid, resides.
During the course of the evening two young men wandered through the middle room wearing their overcoats. I haven't a clue where they came from - outside, I suppose. They idled into the kitchen proper, clattered about a bit, then idled out again with bowls of soup. I have no idea who they were.
The whole thing was really wacky, and really nice. I felt absolutely in situ. I was sad to leave.