The Armchair and the Apocalypse

It feels like the apocalypse is coming. It probably isn’t, but these are unsettled times for sure. The wind has been blowing a hooley for about four weeks, global pandemics abound and football, which was already rubbish, has been ruined by VAR. Politics, well, I don’t even know where to begin with that one, other than to say I am in a post-rage state of exhausted apathy. Oh, and I’ll be fifty next year. Actually, that last detail might well be the salient point. Work, kids, marriage, health, hairline, mortgage. I’m in prime mid-life crisis territory; of course it feels like the apocalypse is coming – for me, it is already here!

What I need is a place to hide. I am fortunate in that I have two such places, or I did until last week when Hurricane Denis demolished my shed. One of the joys of the allotment was sneaking in to the shed with a flask of something hot and having a snooze. No more – I have been left with what has become a place of work, and I still have to decide what to do with the huge pile of shed remnants. Could I perhaps rebuild it? Maybe, but I’ll need the wind to die down first and the forecast gales over the weekend would suggest that there is no immediate prospect of that happening. Which leaves me with my final refuge – a beautiful old armchair.
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It’s a thing so gorgeous, I even painted its portrait; the chair sits at the very top of the house, in a room buffeted by the winds and the rains, a place where even on the most peaceful of evenings you can hear the sounds of the house as it creaks and moves and breathes. This is where I go to read and write – the substantial arms can easily support the glass of whisky, and the ample seat easily supports me. And, so long as I can resist its magical powers, I can sit quite comfortably for many many hours…

Magical powers you say? Ah yes, for much like the Lotos-eaters in Tennyson’s poem, this chair brings sleep with it. Deep restful sleep, not unlike the sleep that comes with dozing off en pleine air  – wonderful and complete, this is truly a refuge from the vicissitudes  of the modern world. No pandemics up here, and I’ve turned off the radio so no football either. The apocalypse may well be on its way, but I’ll be fast asleep and might not even notice.

There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thro’ the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,

And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.

From The lotos-eaters, by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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