Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Take it as read

Mostly restaurant reviews bore me, but Fay Maschler has a superb eye for detail and a great turn of phrase. Here's what she observed at the Swan and Edgar pub in Marylebone:

"The bar in the diminutive ground floor is made from books stuck together into a curved wall and varnished. A plank of wood seals the top. If you love books, or even like them, it is rather a distressing sight, the sort of pointless act that moves people to ask rhetorical questions like what is the world coming to?...  Pieces of spare fabric have been turned into patchwork upholstery for chairs and banquettes, old copies of the Financial Times make a pale pink papier mâché layer over shelves, cornices and the ceiling rose. And the loos are tiled with Scrabble letters."

I really like reading but I'm not one of those people who hoards books. Once I finish with one I like to keep it in circulation, unlike my father who has multiple copies of certain classic books he particularly likes. (He just can't bear to see them go unnoticed and unloved at a yard sale, so he buys them for a quarter and stewards them into their old age as they languish on his overcrowded shelves; his mother was a librarian so could that be why?) 

Anyway, I digress. While Fay is sad to see books transformed into furniture, I have to say it makes me happy. If no one's going to read them, aren't they better off helping to serve drinks than slowly rotting in a dump? And as for Scrabble letters as floor tiles, I'm sorry but that's just genius. In our very small flat we somehow have three Scrabble sets (including a gargantuan deluxe version that naturally my father bought me at a yard sale), and when you start losing tiles things get can out of hand. There should be an orphan tile amnesty, and then the world and its floors would be a better place.

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