FLOUNCY DUMPLINS AND THE FAILINGS OF THE SELF

Naming a piece of furniture is never easy. In fact I would argue that it is even more difficult than naming a boat, or a hairdressers or even a child and that is really difficult. For example I once knew an upholsterer who thought it was a good idea to name his yacht ‘The Tacks Dodger’ and then there was our local barbershop which was called ‘Grateful Head’ and don’t get me started on Flouncy Dumplins, a girl I once did a school play with. What were her parents thinking? How ever ill advised these names are though at least they could be changed with a bit of paint or by deed poll. Nancy Dumplins I’m looking at you. With furniture it is more complicated as any name is ratified and recorded and no matter how egregious will be forever and rigorously protected by the Nobles of Nomenclature. These sack hooded clerics are the name enforcement arm of the Guild of Cathedra, the ancient secret society of English furniture makers, so to avoid lifelong embarrassment it is essential that you get your names right.

When I returned to working in furniture it was under the watchful eye of my older brother and as I was a mere initiate he was very reluctant to let me name anything. He was always overruling my suggestions and assuming naming rights which is why our first tub chair was called the Hot Tub and our first wing chair was called the Winged Monster, though to be fair to him it was pretty big. He has become more circumspect with age and is currently naming his new pieces after London Boroughs, but only the posh ones mind, though I’m not sure any dining chair deserves to be called Bromley.

I have to confess that for a while I wasn’t much better, I just thought I was and once covertly named an entire range of sofas after numbers, from Number One right up to Number Seven, like a Chinese menu, only for sofas, I did kind of question the wisdom of the Number Two though. My brother found out of course and before I had a chance to submit them to the Guild stamped out my little brush fire renaming the sofas after Sussex villages, the Slinfold or Rottingdean anyone?

It wasn’t until Libby and I formed our own business that I was free to call things what I liked, and boy did I go crazy. Well no actually I didn’t, I had namer’s block and out of desperation even named some of my furniture after Brighton and Hove streets, Welbeck, Sillwood I even have a Havelock, I was following my brother down a dangerous path, what was next, the Godalming? Sofas without names began to pile up but thankfully, just before it became necessary to seek a compassionate dispensation from the Guild, I found sudden inspiration and for a while names came to me unbidden.

Wonderful names floated down like confetti, Petal, Lissom, La Lune but like confetti at some point the wedding is over and it rains and all you are left with is a colourful sludge blocking the drains around the church. Complacency. It is why I was blind to the failings of the Self and why it has proven something of a disappointment. At first I thought it was a great name, admittedly when I considered doing a smaller ladies version called Herself I lost my way a bit, but Self was a solid name, cool, slightly reverential, yet not too serious, what could go wrong? It was ratified by the Guild and I was happy, happy that is until l saw the name in print and I realised it might be my Flouncy Dumplins moment. I mean, who is going to want to buy a self arm chair, as it was so delightfully labelled in one of the slightly less ignored magazines. Self harm chair? Oh for goodness sake.

It’s not a mistake I will ever make again as now, after days of research in collaboration with the guys who brought you Flappy Bird, I have developed an algorithm that will selectively generate a name that is perfectly tailored to a particular piece of furniture, although I can’t help thinking that I might possibly be compromising the jug to better fit the handle. But so what, never will I again have to suffer the indignity of an unsuitable name, so if you will excuse me I am off to add the finishing touches to my three latest designs, the Pouch couch, Hairy Mc Chairy and Dennis the Blottoman.

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