The following is a short excerpt from Making Things Work.
It was a spacious shop, well lit and outfitted with a tidy mix of old and new equipment. “I’m working on a dining table and chairs for a client in Miami,” [my host] told me. “Quite a famous bloke, actually. To tell the truth, he’s got such a big name that I’m not allowed to say it. Not that that’s anything out of the ordinary in my world. These days it’s rare for me to work for anyone who’s not routinely written up in Esquire or Vanity Fair, that sort of thing.”
“Which part of London are you from?” I asked, curious as to the origin of his accent.
Ignoring my question, he turned his head to the right, saying “Come an’ take a look at this table and chairs” as he strode toward his workbench. The dining set was inspired by the work of French Art Deco designer Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann. The table, made of rosewood, was stunning. A cross between Deco and neoclassical, it had an extending top that could seat an intimate foursome or expand to accommodate 10. It was waiting to be finished, as soon as the chairs were ready.
“Double tenons hidden in those miters around the seat,” he remarked. “Ever use those darlin’s? I’m telling you, they are quite the challenge to pull off. But what a sturdy bit of join’ry they are. Those chairs will last forever. On the other hand, so will everything I make. That’s one of the reasons my clients are willing to wait years for an opening in my schedule.”
“I took a look at your website,” he went on. “Nice enough work, but really….’Period-authentic furniture and built-ins?’ It’s all been done before, ‘ain’t it? You couldn’t pay me to do that type of guff for common punters. On the other ‘and, someone’s got to do it, so I daresay it might as well be you.”
Now that he’d established I didn’t even rank high enough to engage in a pissing match (not that I am ever inclined to take part in such b.s.) I thought he might answer my question. “Which part of London are you from?” I asked again.
You can read the scintillating remainder of this tale and learn the origin of my host’s accent in Making Things Work.