The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

My magician husband Martin and I moved lock stock and barrel from trendy Notting Hill. We had sold our 'Biba House' to the antique clock dealer Nigel Raffety, with a prestigious shop of tick tocks in Kensington Church Street.

We were meant to be downsizing from a Victorian house at 164  Kensington Park Road to a smaller one in Georgian Brighton. Our new house was immense and not what we meant to buy but my dear husband jumped up and down when we viewed, mouthing to me that he wanted it and would not speak to me if he didn't get his 'dolls house'.

Bang went the plan to make a killing on the property market and downsize, investing the vast profit on stocks and shares and semi retire. In fact, we ended up with two enormous drawing rooms with a gracious hall in-between to be opened up for the receptions and lavish parties we were not going to be giving.

How I longed for a large burgundy sofa so I could stretch out in front of the fake roaring Georgian style gas fire. I chose the front reception room and decorated it a la francaise. It looked out onto Hanover Crescent's lovely gardens with trees and shrubs tendered by Richard, our talented gardener. But I had nowhere to sit and contemplate. Martin had the inevitable goggle box in the back lounge with two maroon sofas from our London house so he was alright Jack!

I was not but a trip to London to meet an old friend changed all that. She choose to meet at Liberty's social stationary department. After we looked at blank books and cards, we ventured to the Indian textiles department and then I got bored 'window' shopping. I wandered off and accidentally found myself in the small furniture department. Nothing there visually caught my attention until I was leaving. I stopped and gasped.

There waiting for my body to sink heavily into it, I saw not one but
two enormous regal sofas in burgundy. Just my style! Antique looking with a long wooden curved pelmet above the feet. A sofa for three. Big and deep enough to sleep on in front of the roaring flames in the marble Georgian hearth. The sister two seater next to it seemed abandoned. No price ticket either. Priceless!

I tested the quality of the sumptuous textile upholstery. Satisfied I sunk into the abundant cushions propped up along the back. There were about four enormous ones. I wanted these sofas at any price.

I collared a young 'lovely' with a plum in his throat demanding to know the price of both sofas.  He coughed nervously and asked me to make an offer! And this was Liberty's? He then confessed the retail price had been £2,500 for the large one and £1,500 for the smaller one. But the famous unnamed owner had sent them back and Liberty's could not refuse!

Who had graced these sofas? He could not say. The small department obviously had no room for them and they were already second hand!  He showed me a minute scratch on the pelmet and a slightly wonky arm. Easily rectified but I noticed a slight white stain near to my derrière. Who had been bonking after closing time I wondered?

The very gay salesman was pleading with me with his eyes, casually mentioning that there would be a sale in two weeks time and I could make a 'reasonable' offer. Transport would be £50 extra. He didn't even have a camera to take a photo and iPhones had not been invented!

I returned and excitedly described the sofas to Martin. 'Get them,' he said, 'I trust your good taste and judgement'. I rang after two weeks when the sale was to begin asking for the young man. 'I can offer £650 for the pair including polishing the scratch, mending the wobbly arm and CLEANING THE SPUNK OFF THE CUSHION!!' I commanded him. There followed a nervous British cough. He said he had to speak to his manager and would call me back within the hour.

All agreed and a suggested £750 was accepted. We became the proud owners of a regal addition to our already prestigious Hanover Crescent historic house which Dickens and Hardy had slept in.

I recounted this Liberty saga to a sofa bed dealer I knew in Brighton. 'Jilliana' he said, 'you should not have used the vulgar word spunk but bodily fluids!'

Written in The Yellow Book Cafe, Brighton October, 2016.