Saturday, 2 June 2012

A tale of two tables

When we first saw Contrary Towers, the things that attracted us were the view, the light and the balcony. Even on that chill February Monday, with the snow still laying and the clouds hanging dark and ominous, we could see the potential. The fact that we'd be able to lean against the balcony and look down on to the waters of Limehouse Cut was mere icing on the cake. The fact is, it really added to the amount of living space and we've certainly put it to good use!

The one thing we really wanted though, was somewhere to sit, write or eat in the open air. A focal point. A practical thing that would also be as individual as we are. My flatmate, fortunately, had a very clear idea of what we should have, she'd seen, somewhere, tables finished with a mosaic of tiles, just the sort of thing you can't find the moment you are looking. Pfft. Nearly three months have gone by since we moved in and I felt I was really going to have to do something about this, after all, we did get a vacuum cleaner a few weeks ago and this was the only other thing we'd talked about.

Well, except for a cocktail shaker, obvs.

Fortunately, the goddess of serendipity had smiled and placed the ideal thing on eBay (goddesses move in mysterious ways, who am I to question?), mosaic tile top, mosaic tile chair splats and a nice shape to the chair seat. And I had cash sitting in my PayPal account.


My only concern was delivery, we have a concierge, but, well, I do worry about these things. It would be a case of I'll see what happens come the day. The day in question turned out to be Wednesday! My flatmate was out sounding like an angel at choir practice, I was head in the clouds pondering dinner, it would be a nice early night with food being ready by the time she go back from practice in EC4. Not that things ever go to plan at Contrary Towers.

I got home (323 if you're interested) ready to drop my pooter bag, check the fridge and then head off to the Poplar branch of Fortnum & Mason, or Lidl as it's sometimes known. Oh so simple. Though I did think the trail of polystyrene bits a little odd. More appeared in the lift. And in to our wing. Err... Oh.

Our door was blocked. The delivery person had obviously decided it looked like a safe place and left it carefully propped over the doorway. Yay! Except for it being 36Kg. An the box was starting to breakup from being dragged around. Oh dear. 36Kg is quite a lot. Especially when dead weight and surrounded by knackered cardboard. None of this mattered. It had arrived!

Oh hell. Which means I was going to have to (a) get it inside and (b) put it together.

With a little effort I got it as far as our lobby, it wasn't the weight, it was the awkwardness. And not wanting to damage the oak veneer on the floors, or knock holes in plaster. Which made things tricky. Why didn't I plan this better and at the very least work from home that day so the nice man could have lugged it in? Though, judging by the polystyrene trail, maybe he was a little rough... Anyway. Stuff in, found Stanley knife, opened box and started to move the *very* heavy bits in. How exciting.

You really can see how little I get out.

So, some time later, I'd put the thing together, used the itsy-bitsy little supplied spanner to tighten the nuts (no tittering at the back please) and, happy that it appeared okay and undamaged, informed the songbird of our not-so-little arrival. At which point she immediately went Oooo and demanded a picture.

Maybe we both need to get out more.

Back to more important matters. Dinner. I'd seen this fab recipe for broccoli and bacon salad. Not that we really do recipes, more use them as a rough guide and then adapt or, as most people call it, change-beyond-recognition. But this evening I would be good, even if it was just so I could sit at The Table with a glass of chilled white, my pooter and write the recipe on a post-it note.

Which is what I did. Unfortunately it took quite a while as I was really enjoying sitting there watching the world go by. As you do. But, eventually, I had a list, it looked like I would be able to get it all in not-really-F&M and... It was getting dangerously close to the vague idea I had in my head for when choir practice would be over and the hunger monster would return in search of sustenance...

...which was sooner than I thought. After traipsing round the shop, realising I'd left said post-it note by the hob, and then having to visit Tesco because they *didn't* have broccoli (does the Queen get this sort of treatment when she pops in to the Piccadilly branch? I don't think so) I wandered back. A text message...

Haz sparkles

Ooh! No, wait a minute. What sort of sparkles? Had she raided Hatton Garden? Was she making some reference to the choir practice? Maybe she'd finally decided to do the vajazzle thing. All were possible. Yet, in a twist of supreme idiocy I'd forgotten the one thing that was truly likely... Wine that sparkles! Hurrah! Well, nearly hurrah. As I walked in to find her munching a sandwich (remember, maximum time between door entry and eating is 8.7 seconds) I realised I was busted, no dinner ready. Food in bag. Not good. This was a tricky, potentially disastrous scenario. We had to deal with it in the only way that is truly acceptable in Contrary Towers...

We got out the champagne flutes, opened the bottle and went to sit on the balcony...

Several hours later... Having worked our way through the sparkles *and* the White Grenache pop I'd brought back from Tesco, we vaguely realised that maybe we should eat. And that could only mean... Cheese on Toast. With Worcester Sauce. We are nothing if not truly classy. It was a lovely evening, really, it was fabulous to sit and natter about, well, I'd like to say everything, but there was a definite theme and I'll leave you to guess what that may have been.

The thing was though, after nearly three months we've finally got The Table and can sit, write, eat and even talk in relative comfort without looking like we'd only moved in that morning. And whilst I know I do irritate the hell out of my flatmate from time to time (or lots) this was a suitable monument to the fact that so far we'd survived. And, most importantly, were still friends. Bliss.

The next morning. I thought I'd make toast. Mostly because I knew there wasn't a lot of milk (oops, missed off the list) and as we were going to the Opera that evening thought it best to not use it all up. But also because I rather liked the idea of sitting out on the balcony and enjoying the morning. At this point I should confess what I really wanted was crumpets, but that had *also* not been on the list. I really am quite rubbish. Back to the toast.

I took tea up and said to the duvet mound that toast was on offer if interested. All I heard a vague, non-commital, grunt. Hmmm. Best I make at least some for the duvet. Just in case. I wonder if the local college does duvet language courses?

It must have been a good day as I *didn't* burn the toast on our psycho grill and there was enough jam left to go around. Hurrah. Honestly, it really is the little things, sitting out on the balcony with my plate of toast and a mug of tea felt like heaven.

Later that day it was time for another little slice of heaven. We were meeting at the Royal Opera House to see their production of Salome, both of us being quite excited at the idea as we knew nothing about this production. And, I believe, it was the opening night. It must be said I was also excited at the prospect of actually getting to see something as my record of late has been pretty rubbish owing to not being able to get away from Notting Hill in time.

If you've not seen Salome here's a synopsis: Salome was the daughter of Herodias, who, frankly, was new money, so let's not worry too much about him, she, according to Wilde, was a bit of a lass who rather fancied John the Baptist. But he was too busy being, quite literally, holier than thou, so wasn't interested. Hell hath no fury anyone? So Herodias gets off with his step-daughter (and niece) by virtue of promising her anything. But all she wants is her love interest's head on a platter. Awkward. In the end, she gets what she wants, the priest dies, and owing to the slight issues that Herodias expects, having murdered a prophet, she gets removed from the stage too.

And you thought you had family problems?

A number of things came from this.
  • The singing was amazing. Especially by John the Baptist and Salome.
  • We got to see a swoon inducing naked man on stage with a big chopper
  • The audience went away with a strong understanding of why you should say no to children. Honestly, if Salome had been told "no" occasionally when she was younger all of this awkwardness could have been avoided.
  • Salome would have been at home in Contrary Towers. Oh yes. Let that be a warning to you all.
Seriously though, I thought the production wonderful. I was a little perturbed by the early scenes set in what appeared to be the loos and the way some things were portrayed was a little disturbing. But the set just worked. As it's an opera in one act any set movement had to happen in full view and, I felt, this was handled beautifully. As for suspension of disbelief, the running through the corridors of the palace, expressed by the set moving across the stage, was stunning.

All in all. I loved it, a superb opera and a chance to practice my German, I would definitely go to see it again if I get the opportunity, though, given the problem I've been having getting from the darkened depths of West London, it's unlikely I'll be brave enough to book tickets for myself any distance in advance.

We headed home to Contrary Towers, agreeing to change at Bank and head to the DLR rather than the joy of Mile End late at night. The walk home was lovely. Yet again my flatmate showed me the special route she takes. Yet again I can't remember it. I'll get it eventually. Dinner, by suggestion of said flatmate, was to be scrambled egg, broccoli and... Potato croquettes. Oh yes. All our favourite foods on a plate. With chilli sauce.

And it was to be quite the most delicious meal ever. This time though we didn't brave the balcony, instead we sat at the oak table inside our living room, ate, chatted and relived a wonderful evening.

So it was truly a tale of two tables, the old and the new, the wood and the metal, used on alternate nights and each carrying touches of memory past whilst being places to talk of what was and what might be.


PS: I can't believe there was actually a website full of pictures of the 323!
PPS: Can somebody remind me to tighten the nuts on the oak table? Ta!

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