Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ – Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
It was like falling down a rabbit hole. The buyers of my flat pulled out a week before completion – after (naturally) I’d sold all my furniture. It was very modern furniture and I had been planning to move to a wibbly-wobbly Cornish idyll it wouldn’t have suited.
My friend sent me a commiserations bean-bag to sit on. I didn’t have a single scrap of furniture left. However, I did have, in a lock up far away, some of my Granddad’s furniture and an eclectic mix of much-loved hoardings from an equally eclectic past. So I went for a rummage.
As you would expect, there was a plethora of vintage lights! Vintage pendant lighting mostly, which meant none of them fitted or would ‘go’ in my flat, which instead features a ridiculous amount of vintage wall lighting.
Curiouser and curiouser. A form of topsy-turvy creation was slowly being born from a seemingly ‘impossible thing’. I couldn’t afford to replace this stuff and to sell it would be heartbreaking.
My cat sat grinning at me… then he disappeared (couldn’t bear the mess I was making).
I stared at these old theatrical lights, which are meant to hang as pendants in corridors, while I have wiring for wall lights in my bedroom.
I drank a problem-abating coffee from my ‘Drink This’ mug. Then it struck me: nothing HAS to be how it seems. You don’t HAVE to use wall lights on walls, or pendant lighting on ceilings, or indeed standing lights on stands.
The cat reappeared and I grinned at him (even though I’m from Sheffield and he actually is from Cheshire).
‘I’m going to stick them on the wall!’ I declared. He said nothing. So I went ahead and wired them in.
Admittedly they do look a bit like a valkyrie’s breast plate, still, I like them. They add a bit of boudoir quirk.
The nautical pendant lights also had their roses bloom from the walls instead of from the ceilings, and I hung their cables over two brackets that had once dangled baskets of strawberries by my back door. I painted all the furniture in similar tones to make it everything match, and a friend re-covered the cushions to look more beach-side and less Dark Side.
I always think of Alice when I step into Any Old Lights. It’s the chequered floor and the clocks hanging from chains in the window. I hope that you remember her too when your heart quickens as you spy something that inspires you in there.
And when you find yourself saying, ‘But I don’t have room for a theatre light on a tripod!’… Why have it on a tripod? Why not hang it from the ceiling, as the theatre hands once would have done? Or from the wall, angled over a favourite chair?
Finding a limitation doesn’t have to be a bad thing; some of the most creative thinking comes from getting around what can’t be done, with what can. We make the seemingly impossible happen. We can take lights off tripods – just ask. It’ll give me the chance to shout, ‘Off with its head!’
Another guest post by TJ Tucker, Girl Saturday