the den

01Nov10

Tonight we’re hanging out in the den listening to records, doing stuff on our laptops. The rug went down this evening and now it feels even more den-like. (The rug really ties the room together, as The Dude would say.)

The den is far far away from anywhere. I even forget it’s part of the house. I have big plans for this room. The blind needs to be made this side of Christmas. Plus it’s being painted un-red, and the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are going in around the doorframe, which obviously you can’t see in this photo. And then the wall behind Simon is being wallpapered. Fancy having a feature wall! I promise it’s not naff. At least, I don’t think it is.

And that’s about it. In this room, that is. Oh and there’s one more lamp to come. And different art. But I’ll sort that once we’ve replaced the glass in the frames that smashed in the move. Oh and I also need to get the hurricane lamp glass re-blown. That’ll go in the den, too, eventually.

I’m trying to learn not to want to do everything all at once. I can’t help it though. On Sunday afternoon I drove around town in gridlock, late for an afternoon tea date, trying to find small plastic rings to fit inside the plastic Italian lampshades I bought so I can suspend them from the ceiling properly. No dice, though, and today I bought some, but they’re the wrong ones. Something tells me my mind won’t properly rest until those lampshades are in place. And then, when they are, there will be the peas to re-pot and the tomatoes to re-stake. And fabric to choose. And GOD what a boring story. Sorry about that.

Now we are listening to TAPES. Far out. The vocals sound seriously adenoidal. It’s all warpy, like scuba-diving in sound. It’s making me feel a bit hayfeverish.

My grandparents always had dens. They still do, but now their dwellings are sort of one big den. We all used to gather in there, all the aunts and uncles and the grandchildren. Eating club sandwiches and specially-prepared croquettes, sometimes whitebait fritters. Listening to the family stories inside a hot, perfumy fug of smoke. The accumulated damp of all that excited breath lining the insides of the windows. And you’d lose all sense of time. I could never work out if the grandfather clock chimed on the hour or every ten minutes or so. Either the hours went super fast or the minutes went really slow. Everything was a bit monumental. There’s no way of explaining it, really. Or maybe there is, but still I can’t.

And when we were old enough to drink — by god were those pours stiff. In university days when I’d have den time with Didy and we’d smoke cigarettes and talk about writing I’d eventually return to the daylight outside blinking with heavy lids, drunk on gin diluted with the merest dash of poorly carbonated tonic. She always insisted on paying for the taxis, too. I don’t know if she thought she was sending me all the way to Ashburton in a cab or if the regular fistful of money was just her way of saying off you go and be young — go and buy a dress and don’t think too much about things. Actually I do know.

And now I have my own den, so-called in my grandparents’ honour. It makes me think of them. It feels grown-up and grotto-like. Something happens to conversation in here. It’s hard to remember the concerns of the day or the mess beyond the threshold. Hours go by. Cups of tea are had. And now I have no idea what I am supposed to be doing right now, after this. I suppose it doesn’t really matter; I suppose it can’t matter. Maybe I’ll just do this some more. Sit here in a semi-daydream with tape music filling my head like warm water all tight and soupy against my eardrums.

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6 Responses to “the den”

  1. Our study is kind of turning into a den – but there is no couch in there… it’s a quiet place though, and the kids aren’t to play in there (the one room in the entire house that they are not)

  2. That sounds great. It’s my ambition to have a den/study too: right now my desk for work (less work-work, more life’s-work) shares a room with the guest bed and everything in the house that doesn’t belong anywhere else.

    Do you distinguish between a den and a study? I always thought of a den as a place for solitude and quiet industry, like a study, but you make a den sound like a place for conversation and companionship. Not that I’d mind if my den were a place for both.

  3. But red is the perfect den colour! I like the idea of a den. We have a lot of rooms in our new house, but I don’t know if I’d call any of them a den. We have what we call the ‘sitting room’ (as opposed to the ‘living room’) which is where all our shabby antique furniture goes and where the kids are banned. Maybe that could be the den – a room for sitting in, away from the TV, to read and be studious, but which isn’t actually the study (we’d like to call that the library if only we had some built in shelves, but like Matt’s, it also houses the pull-out couch and the boxes). I am also desperate for some lamps – our family lounge has that horrid recessed lighting, which I always said would put me off buying a house. What on earth possesses people to inset their lights – so harsh and just plain ugly. Not to mention dated. What’s wrong with old fashioned hanging lights?

    • 4 katy77

      Yeah the den is usually the place for chilling, not the office (which I’m calling the office for some reason, mainly because it is BIG and has two desks, a wall of shelves and a sofa in it), but I guess we could call it the sitting room too. And the room with the TV in it doesn’t really have a name yet. The TV room?

  4. 6 katy77

    Heaps! (Well, more than we had before – it’s such a novelty being able to see the floor!)


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