Reclaimed leather. 8 out of 10 cows prefer it.

Reclaimed Leather. 8 out of 10 cows prefer it.

Albert + Beatrice

I work from home and although my family are very tolerant, there are only so many old sofas sitting around that they can cope with. Usually I wouldn’t have taken another sofa whilst I will still in the process of stripping one but this was an emergency so I pulled out all of the stops. Adding to the complications, my parents were over from New Zealand and staying with us for 3 weeks (Yes, I am Scottish, they emigrated. No, I don’t have much of an accent, I lived abroad a lot when I was growing up. Yes, my sister and her family also live in New Zealand. Yes, I think it probably does show that my parents love her more than they love me. Yes, the cruel abandonment by my family when I was a mere 22 years old probably does contribute to my need to save abandoned sofas, give them names and talk about them like they are real. Wow, this facebook thing is better than therapy!!)

So anyway, I will still in the process of stripping Albert when Beatrice turned up. I could tell at once they weren’t going to get on. Beatrice was right in his face as soon as she got her wooden feet through the door. It was early evening and I decided I would finish stripping Albert and leave Beatrice in one piece to be stripped another day. Then I made a fatal error. The first thing I do when I am stripping a sofa is turn it upside down so I can rummage in it’s insides and remove the bolts/nails/screws/staples/cat hair/sometimes all of the above that holds the arms to the main carcass. Unfortunately, when I cut Beatrice open there was another secret ingredient. Lots and lots of feathers.

I was really confused because I could see the bottom of the foam cushions from my vantage point peering into in Bea’s guts, but it honestly looked like an albino bigbird had mated with a feather boa. And since what goes in must come out, the small porch I use to strip the sofas quickly started to look like the set from White Christmas. At this point I realised there was no going back. I was going to have to metaphorically rip the plaster off and strip her that evening.

There are probably easier ways to skin sofas but I like to reclaim as much of the leather are humanly (inhumanly) possible so I skin them piece by piece, cutting through each individual seam. Think of it as a cross between samurai sword skills and full body contact yoga. It involves turning to sofa several times and should definitely not be carried out by anyone with a heart complaint or, in this case Pteronophobia (fear of feathers – I looked it up, it is an actual thing. And I also learned that pterodactyl literally means ‘winged finger’. Who says this page isn’t educational). By this point it was getting quite late and sweary words will falling from my lips as fast as the feathers were falling from Beatrice’s insides. I was going to have to call in reinforcements.

This time, reinforcements came in the form of my 76 year old Dad who looks like a cross between a member of ZZ top and a skinheaded santa claus. He had been desperate to get stuck in, so wearing his M&S action slacks and armed with his trusty swiss army knife we faced the feathers together. Except we still didn’t know where the feathers were coming from. I had already taken out the back cushions and they were the usual foam type. It wasn’t until we finally opened the belly of the beast that we found the issue. Nestled on top of the foam seat cushions was a 2 inch layer of down. I am sure that in it’s hay day, Bea’s feathery secret had been the toast of all discerning bottoms but, over the years, those bottoms had caused a breach in the fabric that encased the feathers, and now those feathers were EVERYWHERE.

It is one of my greatest regrets that I have no photos of that evening. I am sure we both looked a sight, with feathers sticking to every sweaty bit of exposed exposed skin making us look like yetis who had run out of leg wax. After filling it up several times with feathers, my dyson went on strike and we had no choice but to go old school with a dustpan and brush. The leather itself had feathers imbedded in the underside which had to be individually plucked out like unruly chin hair. So as you see, from the moment she came into my life Beatrice has been trouble. We have been working on repairing our relationship, I comfort her as she cries about the chesterfield who dumped her for a leggy ercol chair and after a few pints of snakebite she tells me that she is going to change and be better in her next life. I’m not sure how much I believe her. You have been warned.

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