Conversations on Chairs

My father’s favourite chair was no doubt the plastic garden chair on his veranda at the house in Greece. He would sit there in the evenings and watch the light change over the village. People would come and go, visit and talk.

I have a really good picture of him in a green and white stripe canvas deckchair at Mbona. He is having a siesta and Tracey’s two dogs, Razz and Tazz, lie sleeping next to him.

He was imposing in his office chair. The desk was pigeon wood and the chair upholstered in blue leather. He did a lot of work in that office chair, planning, going through financials, dictating and editing letters, working on his community hobbies.

He was chairman of many bodies and societies, and occupied the main seat there. At home and visiting he would always sit on the left corner of the head of the table. I never asked why. I wonder if he left the head seat for his father. It did not matter who sat at the head, as long as he was on the side.

At Astros, the beach resort in Arcadia where he spent summer holidays, he had his favourite chair in on the corner table at Costa’s Psarotaverna. He would hang his shirt over the chair when he arrived at the beach, well before all the other Greeks coming to take a bath. Then he would enjoy his morning on the beach, under an umbrella on a sun lounger.

He was a good piano player as a young man, and we always had a piano at home but he only played La Paloma, his favourite, once or twice. After the 1995 World Cup Rugby Win we were sitting in the study celebrating wine and he fell off the piano stool.

“Oh, Peter!” shouted my father-in-law, laughing. We were all laughing, tears rolling down our cheeks. We were so happy that we had won. And that my father did not break anything after he fell off the piano stool.

I not sure how he fitted on the airplane seats, big man as he was, for his three trips a year to Greece. In the end he made a concession and flew business class with Olympic Airways. It was just a concession as the business class ticket cost about the same as a premium economy ticket on SAA.  More often than not when my mother travelled with him her seat did not work.

He had a collection of Swedish wicker chairs for his taverna at home. When he left for his walk in the morning in the village he aimed for the springs and then for Keza’s cafeneio. The chairs changed over the years from wicker seats to plastic to Chinese metal cafe chairs. But the enjoyment never changed.

The one place I never saw him sit was at church. He would stand for the full service behind the last row of male pews, next to the aisle.  I never asked why he never sat at the head of the table. I never asked why he never sat in church. Too busy.

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