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Sideboards - Thanks for the Memory

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Sideboards - Thanks for the Memory

I wonder what happened to all the sideboards, those massive pieces of highly polished furniture that half-filled most dining rooms. Someone is going to tell me that they exist, in everyone’s home except mine. I won’t be surprised.I’ve got what is loosely called a ‘unit’, sort of cross between a sideboard and a display cabinet, with a pull-down drinks bit – used by me as a sewing cupboard – in the middle. It is a much-loved wedding present. Actually, I've got two now, there's posh.

Thinking of the blog theme being sideboards has put me in mind of the ones I grew up with. My childhood homes were pubs and the private accommodation was usually spacious, offering plenty of room for a sideboard, and a piano, even. My mother was in charge of our sideboard. I had many warnings to keep out, nothing in there for me. It must have been jam-packed with family secrets and skeletons in the cupboard to need such fierce protection. I was allowed one thing, with permission, which was an old chocolate box full of black and white photos from when my mother was a girl. I would spend hours looking through them. I still have the collection, mounted in an album now and I really wish I’d kept them in the old, tatty box. It was part of the magic. Someone gave my mother a small packet of Thornton’s chocolates and she kept them in the top drawer.  Over time, one by one they disappeared. I learnt the hard way that there are only so many times you can get away with ‘they won’t miss just one’. Oh, how I’ve missed my mom for most of my life. I'd replace every chocolate ten-fold if it were possible for her to nip back for five minutes.

Sometime in the ‘60s we had the novelty of a house. The new furniture included a teak dining table, chairs and matching sideboard. The sideboard filled the length of our dining room and had thin, spindly legs. Cupboard and drawer handles were made of wood, chunky and round, unlike the dangly brass loops on the other one. We kept the new table mats and the best cutlery in the drawers.

My grandmother’s sideboard was huge. I don’t know how old I was before I could see the top of it. I remember that it filled the end of her lounge. It had three cupboards in a row, three drawers, one above each cupboard and legs that I referred to as curly in shape. The most important thing to me was that I was allowed to rummage in it to my heart’s content, as long as I didn’t make too much mess and I put everything back. And I mustn’t touch Nanna’s knitting.There wasn’t much to play with, but I enjoyed tidying everything up. Some items came to be mine over time. I still have a set of electro-plated nickel silver fish eaters with matching servers and a set of cake forks. On top of the sideboard used to stand a couple of bookends with a matching vase. I don’t know what happened to the vase, but I treasure the Bosson’s bookends, despite their theme of Hunting Scene.

Here are a few memories as Haikus,

Like a lifelong friend

Silently storing secrets

Behind locked cupboards.

Dark and imposing

Child-size fingers folded round

Your barley-twist legs.

A framed photogragh,

The once-happy bride and groom.

A short-lived marriage.

A sideboard cupboard,

Whiskey, brandy, Bacardi,

Cinzano and gin.

Flowers, past their best

Not quite ready to throw out,

Last week’s thoughtful gift.

I hate the subject,

Bosson’s ‘Hunting Scene’ bookends

Are cherished by me.

Fleeting memories

Of a lifetime of sideboards,

Bygone furniture.

Thanks for reading, keep safe and well, Pam x


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