Saturday, March 30, 2019

Breuer chairs and I

It all began with bentwood. Around a century ago, people discovered that when you put wood in a steamer, you could bend it into all sorts of shapes without it splintering.  A practical use of that was to make lightweight chairs.  And bentwood chairs were very fashionable in the early 20th century

But what should you use for the seat? To keep the chair light rattan was a popular option. British colonialists came across it in Malaya where the rattan plant grows prolifically -- and it is light but strong -- so woven rattan was well known at the time, as you see above. So rattan was also favoured for the seat of Breuer chairs when they arrived

Breuer is the German word for brewer so the chairs are also called brewer chairs.  They come from the Bauhaus architectual movement of Germany in the 1920s and 30s -- self-consciously innovative.  And they are in fact a bit mad.  Innovativeness that leads to no back support!

Aside from looking rather stylish, they are very light: Strong  steel tubing plus Rattan seats and backrest.  So they have some practicality.  They looked very fragile however so the vogue for them did not last long.

Anyhow they had some revival in Australia about 30 years ago.  And I bought 8 of them!

As with bentwood chairs before them, however, the seat of the Breuer chairs tended to fail, with a big hole left in the middle.  And that is the reason why if you see any bentwood chairs around these days you will see that the seat has been covered with a layer of 3-ply -- not elegant any more but at least usable

I did not pay a lot for my Breuer chairs however -- they came in a flatpack -- so when they failed I did not bother to save them but just threw them out.  And I was down to 3 of them left when a tenant moved out of one of my properties and left another 3 behind.  They too had obviously concluded that they were not much good. So I now had 6 Breuer chairs again.

They continued to fail however and I continued to throw them out. But I also found a couple at charity shops so restocked a little there.

When I was down to 5 chairs however, I had a rethink.  As lightweight chairs they were rather handy and they looked rather interesting so I decided to do what the earlier generation had done with their bentwood chairs.  When I was growing up, ALL the bentwood chairs I saw had had their seats repaired with plywood. So I stopped throwing my Breuer chairs out and repaired their seats with plywood.  And I even have two with the original seats.

And when the council had one of their rubbish disposal weeks recently, I spied a complete set of them put out by the side of the road.  So I took them in.  That lot however has upholstered seats so that may be why they lasted better.  So why did the owners chuck them out?  Maybe they thought the upholstered seats were looking a bit fragile.  I guess I will find out.

But, anyway, after about 30 years, I once again have 8 Breuer chairs.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A controversial hat

Above is an image of a hat that Kate bought for me in NYC.  She even bought it from Trump Tower.  It is not actually a true Trump hat. A Trump hat says: "Make America great again".  The one above says something slightly different.  But very few people would notice the difference.

I wore it on my morning shopping trip a couple of days ago in suburban Brisbane.  Brisbane is a long way from the USA so I wondered if it would get a reaction.  Consistent with their aggressive nature, American Leftists do sometimes attack the wearers of such hats.  Would that hatred spread to Brisbane?

It did, sort of.  When I had finished my shopping around about 10am, I stopped off where I usually do for a morning cup of coffee.  The girl on the counter took my money for it but then went out the back.  She came back and told me they had run out of coffee! 

I didn't argue. I just left for another place a few doors down that had plenty of coffee!  What do you think?  Do you think a coffee joint would really run out of coffee?

There's a famous Australian Country and Western song called "The pub with no beer".  So I did one better. I encountered a coffee joint with no coffee!  I am not going to name the shop concerned as the people there are usually pleasant and I like their coffee.  They served me as usual yesterday.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

A very pleasant occasion

Jenny is an exceptionally kind and generous person.  And one manifestation of that is that she frequently shouts excellent dinners for friends and family -- dinners "with all the trimmings".   I was talking to Joe about that and we agreed that of all the dinners we have the ones we get from Jenny are our favourites.

I have always been a bit conscious of a lack of reciprocity in that regard.  Who shouts dinners for Jenny?  I have done a little in that connection.  I do give Jenny bits of money at times to defray her expenses and I do shout her a Nandos dinner every Monday.  But that is a very slight recognition.

So I put it to Joe that we should do a joint dinner for Jenny -- "with all the trimmings".  So I invited Jenny to one of my verandah dinners tonight.  My verandah is by common consent a very pleasant dining venue.  My curries have been turning out well lately so I put one of those on.  Joe cut up the onions for it and got in the yoghurt as an accompaniment for it

Anne made a big dish of Liptauer for the canapes.  Liptauer is ubiquitous in South Central Europe but seems unknown here.  The only place where you can get it in Brisbane is from Anne.  It always goes down well with cracker biscuits

Kate made mini-Pavlovas for the dessert.  With strawberries and blueberries they went down well

I always invite George for any family do I arrange so he was invited too.  He brought along two bottles of Porphyry wine for the occasion.  That was a real blast from the past.  I think I last had it about 50 years ago. It is a type of Sauternes.

Anyway it all came together well so although that was only a very small thank you to Jenny it was one from us all.