Phil’s reference to falling asleep in front of his guests (not sure whether he was joking or not) reminded me of our friend Peter, who has always had a tendency to doze off after dinner, wherever he is.
It was a long time ago, before we moved here – probably getting on for 30 years, so he must have only been in his 30s, but he did it even then. On one particular occasion I remember us all sitting chatting after the meal and noticed him, elbow in table, leaning more and more heavily on the hand under his chin. What I didn’t notice was the table buckling under the strain.
It was a very nice gateleg table, large enough to seat 8 people easily, oval but only just so (nearly round, I mean) and the flaps were each in two parts. And he was leaning hard on the very end.
Yes, it broke. A sudden snap, Pete and the remains of dinner on the floor. I had cleared away, I don’t remember a pile of crockery, but a nice Victorian cranberry wine glass met its doom. We didn’t use them often. Don’t think we’ve used them at all since, those that remain.
Since then, we’ve always repaired rapidly to the sitting room after dinner so that any sleepy guests can nap in peace.
That’s not the only piece of furniture that’s come a cropper from the weight of a guest. The first time our friend Daphne brought her new husband to visit us comes to mind. At that time (again, in our Lowestoft house) we had a Victorian chaise longue in the drawing room. He went to sit down and pushed it back as he sat. Now, what he didn’t know – and indeed, there was no reason to – was that the back leg was not very strong, so we had it bolstered up with a couple of stout logs. These, he’d pushed out of the way. So again, a loud crack and our guest on the floor.
Oh, how we laughed.