When the Communal Table Comes Home

February 20, 2008 at 4:21 am (Uncategorized)

I think blending all my food like a gummy octogenarian for the past few days has taken its toll on my ability to process information. It’s the only explanation for last night. Last night, we had a family dinner for my sister-in-law Flic’s birthday at the (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) fantastically delicious Sailors Thai Canteen at The Rocks. Seating is communal. The vast table takes up basically 80% of the dining room. We nabbed one of the ends as a table of 5 caught in the midsection can struggle acoustically (as we know from A Tavola). Little did I suspect, gingerly tucking into mouth-watering solid food last night, that enormous communal tables were soon to become the evening’s defining theme.

I can happily report that my DRUGS! mixed quite well with alcohol. In fact, it’s the most effective pain relief I’ve found since falling headfirst into this hellfire. There’s a good reason why I’m not a medical doctor because hell, I thoroughly recommend it! But perhaps it did impair my decision-making abilities… that would explain why the warning on the DRUGS! says “do not operate heavy machinery.” I’d amend that to “do not make any sudden significant purchases.”

Oh yes, dear readers of this blog, Llew and I went in for a spot of impulse buying by moonlight last night. This is something we can ill, ill afford to do, but a little cocktail known as DRUGS! and alcohol made all my pain and reason float right away… I don’t know what Llew’s excuse is…exhaustion, maybe, from having to deal with me for the past week… anyway, we both took leave of our senses.

We do this sometimes. We live large. Large being the operative. On this occasion, we had almost made it home without doing anything stupid or expensive. We even sensibly caught the ferry home rather than risk the extravagance of a Sydney cab. We were so close. In fact, I could hop to the scene of our undoing from here. But we didn’t make it. We faltered, and then we fell.

Our favourite local cafe is undergoing a bit of a refit. You know the drill: new owners want to put their own stamp on the place. Out with the old, in with the new, the show must go on etc. And one of the things the new owners are parting with is the communal table.

The communal table. Imagine, if you will, a table that is a metre wide. Okay. Now imagine that same table is 2.7 metres long. Yes, that’s right. 2.7 metres. Now imagine that you see that table on the footpath out the front of your favourite local noshery. You’ve eaten around that table with friends. You’ve had some fine times around that table, yucking it up, waving in more wine and insisting everyone must have dessert. You see the table is for sale, and that the new owners of said cafe are packing up for the night. Now imagine that – on a crazy spur of the moment whim – you buy that table and immediately enlist the help of kitchen and wait staff in bearing it home. Then imagine that you instal it in your home in the middle of the night while all the sane people are tucked up safely in bed dreaming happy dreams of all the space they’ve got left in their dining room.

We don’t really have a dining room.

What we’ve got is this office, and the communal table is right now directly behind me, as vast and solid as the Pentagon. Like the Pentagon, the table also feels like it’s gathering a dossier on me even as I sit here quietly typing and minding my own affair. It sees things. It knows stuff. Which, frankly, is a lot more than I can say for us.

The late Princess Diana once famously said that there were three in her marriage, and that’s kind of how I feel about the new presence in my house. It’s so manifest it’s like being watched. Better looking than Camilla Parker Bowles, though, I’ll give it that. Actually it’s a very handsome table. And it’s fit for viking feasts. And if we just move the bookcase and perhaps turn it that way… yes, it might just work… and then I’ll have the most audacious desk (and occasional dining table) in the southern hemisphere… Which means it’s time to wave farewell to my old pine table, my current desk. I’ve had it since I was 21 years old, and it has served me very, very well indeed. It has seen too many meals to mention, and has stepped into its relatively recent role of permanent desk without complaint. It’s been a good, solid piece of furniture and it’s been everywhere with me. Sigh. I hope it finds a happy home and someone who will appreciate it as much as I have. Time to put our own table out on the footpath…

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