Not the comfy chair

Image courtesy of Renee, via Flickr Creative Commons

The personal chair

I’ve been thinking about armchairs. Not sure why. When you come down to it though, an armchair is a solid and important presence in a room. It provides comfort and seating and, depending on design, support for the back, even the lolling head if it has wings. It can be a power base. The favourite armchair, the one no one else dares sit in.

For a writer, an armchair can take on an added significance. Roald Dahl loved his wing backed armchair so much that he had it transported to his writing hut and fashioned a sort of shelf or tray which lay across the arms so he could write in comfort. Maybe it also had the psychological effect of locking him in to the writing, or locking everything else out. For lesser mortals it can be the reading place. I write at a desk, with a laptop, but read in comfort, in an armchair. There’s nothing like it. A settee doesn’t do. My days of reading while lying on the floor are long gone. You can read in bed, but only for so long. An armchair is the answer.

The perfect chair

As Monty Python clearly knew, comfort is important. That’s why the idea of the comfy chair as an instrument of torture was so funny. So what is the perfect armchair? A high backed one, clearly, so you can lean the head back in those moments when you want to pause and digest what you’ve just read – or try to work out a tricky crossword clue. There’s been a fashion in recent years for low backed chairs and sofas. Instruments of torture. It won’t last.

Second, it should have wings, for the times when the eyes need to shut. To aid thought obviously, not to enable sleep. Then, the arms are important. Wooden ones are no use. You can’t lean against them, and books and papers cannot be safely stowed by your side without slipping through the gap to the floor. This could be highly inconvenient as they would then become confused with the newspapers and poetry books already piled next to the chair. A man must have a system, and a properly designed armchair can be the key to the system.


Before I finish my musings, a word about accessories. Antimacassars are no longer needed, at least provided hair products are avoided, as clearly they should be. Cushions are no more than a nuisance. The chair is already designed to be comfortable if it’s any good. The only accessory needed for a decent armchair is a side table. A convenient surface for cups of tea, biscuits, maybe a glass of wine, some peanuts. A solid table that the dog will not knock over, positioned within easy reach. Which leads me nicely to the end of this train of thought. It’s time for coffee and the crossword.

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