Thursday, April 5, 2012

Design for living

My favourite local cafe makes a terrific latte but its magazine choice is dire. According to the nice young owners, anything worth reading, like New Zealand Books or Vanity Fair, mysteriously vanishes out the door with their oh-so respectable customers. So on days when I have no-one to talk to and no mail to read, I comb through an aging pile of huntin', shootin' and boatin' publications, and usually end up with Cuisine. I like to cook and eat, but I'm not into food fetishism. Still, I can usually cadge or recipe or two. This morning Vogue Living came to light. But after a five minutes or so of inspecting glossy rooms designed and - so they would have us believe - lived in by even glossier people, I decided the damn thing is a mental health risk. These people "live" in a manner that sooner or later will make any normal person want to creep back to the cluttered little hole in the hillside they call home. and lock the door. It's generally accepted that pornography, along with women's and fashion magazines, inflicts social/psychological damage. Well, so do these "life-style" bibles. It's only a matter of degree.
And, just to cap off my disdain, round about page 325 I came across the gushing phrase "high-end collectibles". Sounds impressive, doesn't it. Until a moment's reflection tells you that all it means is "costly crap".
All this has reminded me of a 1950s song by the marvellous Flanders and Swann, with the same title as this post:

We're terribly House & Garden at number 7B,
We live in a most amusing Mews, ever so very contemporary.
We're terribly House & Garden - the money that one spends
To make a place that won't disgrace our House & Garden friends.
We've planned an uninhibited interior decor,
Curtains made of straw,
We've wallpapered the floor.
We don't know if we like it
But at least be can be sure:
There's no place like home sweet home.
It's fearfully Maison - Jardin at number 7B.
We've rediscovered the chandelier:
Très, très very contemporary.
We're terribly House & Garden though at last we've got the chance.
The garden's full of furniture and the house is full of plants.
It doesn't make for comfort but it simply has to be
'Cos we're ever so terrible up-to-date, comtempo-rar-ary.

And winding up:
Oh, we're terribly House and Garden
As I think we said before,
But though Seven B is madly gay -
It wouldn't do for every day -
We actually live in Seven A,
In the house next door!

Flanders and Swann


  1. Aaah, I grew up with this song...remember record players? And the wireless?

    1. And do you remember Mud, Glorious Mud, and the Gnu song?