The China Cabinet – And Not The One In Beijing

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Every home I have ever been in – and I am using the term home rather than house, as there are lots of homes in flats and units and even a few in tents and caravans – has had a china cabinet of some sort. It seems to be a sign equally of domesticity and of civilisation.

Some of the homes I know have china cabinets that have expanded and taken on a life of their own – the people who share the space with them slowly being pushed out as the collection of plates, bowl, tureens, pots, glasses, mugs and vases grows. If art is added to utility, the members of the household who are not under the spell of the collection might as well pack up and move into the garage now – they’ll be there eventually. That, or get a length of 2 x 4 and start in on the Wedgewood with a hefty swing.

As I type this in the cool of the dining room I can see our Chinese kit china cabinet over in the corner of the room. It has not expanded sideways yet but I note that what were bare shelves a few years ago are now full. And like most china cabinets they are a roadmap of their owner’s minds.

If we imagined that our china cabinet would be filled with cut-glass carafes and elegant wine sets or objects of art, we did so without looking at ourselves in the mirror. I can see a couple of cocktail glasses alright, but one of them is made of plastic. There are two sets of stemmed glasses that are hauled out for red or white but they hardly count because none of them have broken yet. Perhaps it is too early – they might still be in stock at the homewares shop and you might be able to serve six people around an elegant dinner table without one person drinking Chardonnay out of a Vegemite jar.

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Then it becomes more probelematical. The Sodastream plastic bottles have to live somewhere but I can’t think why it is in the china cabinet. Nor does it seem sensible to put the rubber stubby holders from the Victorian Hot Rod Show in there. I admire the 6 oz glass measuring beaker from the old Kodak processing lab, though, and at least it lets me regulate the thiosulphate in my cocktails.

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Where did we get 4 mismatched beer mugs? They are German, commercial, and garish. I never go to Oktoberfest.

I will say that the set of 4 blown glass things in different colours are probably arty, or at least artful. I do not think they are art. No idea what beverage they are meant to contain but I’ll bet the occasion when it is served is an awkward one. No-one would be comfortable drinking from what may be decorations from a funeral home.

Ah, but there is a saving grace to this cabinet – it is glass on the top and closed doors on the bottom. That is where the booze is kept. I am sorry to say only four of the couple of dozen bottles contain anything that a sane man would drink – the other ones being given over to women’s alcohol and syrups – but at least there is enough there to work with. I might have to drink it out of a glass that once held processed cheese or yeast extract, but there are times in your life when elegance gives way to ethanol. As long as it does not have a Disney character printed on the side I can retain some dignity.

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