My son Finn is four years old. Today he seems to be the perfect size to fit the white chair. But he seemed the right size at age two, and I know without a doubt that he will fit the chair at eight.
He just called out to me ‘that is great music mum, what’s it about?’
‘It’s about three chairs love, three chairs before the fire. ‘
Yes my little love, our chairs. I am in the one scrounged from the side of the road. One scrounged because it was a perfect though slightly smaller version of the one we’ve had for ten years, that was built by my Grandpa Ken in the early nineteen-fifties before living out its mid-life with my parents. Both of these chairs have that simple modern design of a leaning back, tightly padded seat under velvet, then arms of curved timber that roll in big semi-circles before falling gracefully to the floor to become legs.
The third chair? Well it was made by Grandpa Ken in about 1969, for my brother Dean who is oversees now having travelled away for his 46th birthday. The white chair was always there. It is a perfect little man’s chair, like a leather office chair with a tall back, side panels with curl-over for arms, and a neat and modern shape. It is made of nineteen- sixties marble-white vinyl, and has those teak legs like inverted cones that end in gold caps.
I used to watch my brother as a boy rock on this chair in front of the telly, shows like ‘Matlock Police’ or ‘The Sullivans’. For years it was covered in ‘3XY’ or ‘EON FM’ radio stickers. Or a Bombers scarf. Or Dean’s footy duffel-coat adorned with the numbers of players for Essendon.
And now so many years later it lives in my son’s room, cleaned up enough to look new, dragged into the kitchen-lounge for open-fire days.
When we lit the fire today Finn got excited and clamorous, climbing the chair. I wanted to say ‘be careful’ but checked myself. This chair was well-made for little guys and it had balance built in. It’s almost un-topple-able, just as it seems unstoppable.
I sit, fire blazing, in amongst this triptych of chairs. I sit in their story. My Grandpa. My brother as a boy. My boy as a boy seated in his history and family narrative. The addition of the chair found by me and my husband adding its own newer story-thread.
In the settling fire potatoes cook in foil. My husband and son make a Leggo ‘super-monster-truck’ that has a lot of spoilers.
Later we will scoop out the soft inner potato and pop in butter and salt. Riches enough, good things aplenty for a cold Melbourne day…