JUDGING by the barrage of adverts all over everything – telly, print, hoardings, you name it – you’d think the entire population focused on nothing else but buying a new sofa each January.
It’s a new year, so we change the furniture. Hang the expense, don’t fuss about a few hundred quid on credit, there’s no need to pay anything for years and years – the man says. Choice made, sit back, wait for the delivery and then relax until the next winter season of seductive adverts prey on the mind and make us feel we couldn’t possibly be satisfied with what we have.
None of this registered with me until a few years ago when a couple we know had to hand their daughter and son-in-law a significant sum to enable them to pay off what they owed on the sofa of their dreams. The youngsters had apparently signed up to a tempting deal that seemed too good to be true – which of course it was. With the merry sound of ‘zero this’ and ‘zero that’ ringing in their ears, they welcomed their new purchase into their tiny flat and forgot that those zeros would soon turn into big pound signs. Two years down the line, someone had to stump up for it, and that was where the bank of mum and dad came to the rescue.
Not all deals and not all customers are the same, and the majority get along perfectly well – it’s just the sharp dealer and the vulnerable innocent who make an unhappy combination.
Geoff and I emptied our piggy bank to go sofa-shopping ourselves this month. It was not a mission we took lightly. We have built up to this enormous undertaking over a number of years, since our two ancient sofas turned from shabby chic to just plain shabby. One of them in particular has suffered from 20 years of what could politely be described as ‘abandoned relaxing’ (no names, Geoff, I promise).
A post on Freecycle, the website that unites those who are wanting with those who no longer want, and sofa No. 1 was rapidly on its way to a new home. No money changes hands on Freecycle, just a warm glow of knowing that you aren’t consigning something useful to landfill but instead gifting it to someone who wants and needs it.
Now we have a sitting-room that looks as though we’ve been burgled. Not for long, though, as by the time you read this our replacement should have been delivered.
We chose Sophie, as of course, being a sofa, she has to be called, from the clearance section of the one and only furniture shop into which we ventured. We do love a bargain, but we also love stumbling across something that we know is absolutely right – the very colour and the very style that we had in mind when we set out on our mission.
It was extraordinary that we should find Sophie the sofa there, lurking shyly in a dark corner, with the (genuine) original price tag showing her to have once been an eye-watering £2,535. We baulked at parting with £699, but we are a bit old-fashioned about prices and still happen to think a loaf of bread shouldn’t cost more than a shilling.
Now we have to hope Sophie arrives in time for when we have supper guests this weekend. The alternative of sitting on each other’s laps in a half-bare room is not a party game that will catch on at Hill Towers, I can confidently say.
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