Design For Living - Flanders and Swann

When we started making money, when we started making friends we found a home as soon as were able to. We bought this bijou residence for about a thousand more than the house our house was once the stable to. With charm, colour values, wit and structural alterations, now designed for graceful living, it has quite a reputation:

We're terribly House & Garden at number 7B,
We live in a most amusing Mews, ever so very contemporary.
We're terribly House & Garden - the money that one spends
To make a place that won't disgrace our House & Garden friends.
We've planned an uninhibited interior decor,
Curtains made of straw,
We've wallpapered the floor.
We don't know if we like it
But at least be can be sure:
There's no place like home sweet home.

It's fearfully Maison - Jardin at number 7B.
We've rediscovered the chandelier:
Très, très very contemporary.
We're terribly House & Garden though at last we've got the chance.
The garden's full of furniture and the house is full of plants.
It doesn't make for comfort but it simply has to be
'Cos we're ever so terrible up-to-date, comtempo-rar-ary.

Have you a home that cries out to your every visitor "here lives someone who is exciting to know?" No? Well, why not collect those little metal bottle tops and nail them, upside-down, to the floor? This will give a sensation... of walking on little metal bottle-tops turned upside-down.

Why not get hold of an ordinary Northumbrian spoke-shaver's coracle, paint it in contrasting stripes of, say, telephone black and white white, and hang it up in the hall for a guitar tidy for parties.

Why not drop in one evening for a mess of potage, our speciality, just aubergine and carnation petals, with a six-shilling bottle of Mule du Pape, a feast fit for a King.

I'm delerious about our new cooker fitment, with the eye-level grill. This means, that without my having to bend down, the hot fat can squirt straight into my eye.

We're frightfully House & Garden at number 7B
The walls are patterned with shrunken heads:
Ever so very contemporary.
Our boudoir on the open plan
Has been a huge success,
Though everywhere's so open
There's nowhere safe to dress.
With little screens and bottle-lamps
And motifs here and there
And mobiles in the air
And ivy everywhere
You musn't be surprised to meet a cactus on the stair
But we call it home sweet home.

We're terribly House & Garden, as I think we said before
But though 7B is madly gay
It wouldn't do for every day.
We actually live in 7A,
In the house next door.


Mule du Pape

Thanks to Frank Young for this explanation:

Flanders is using a triple integrated pun and allusion here. The title "La Mule du Pape" is that of a short story by, I think, Alphonse Daudet. In the story, which takes place in the fourteenth century at Avignon, the pope's mule is, indeed, well treated when it appears in public carrying the pope. But when it is returned to the care of its keeper, it is mistreated badly. Eventually, the mule has its revenge.

Daudet lived for many years in Provence, very near the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which is famous for its wine. Indeed, in the town today there is a restaurant called "La Mule du Pape" in commemoration of the story - I found it on the WWW with a "Dogpile" search.

Hence, the bad wine "Mule du Pape" embodies an allusion to Chateauneuf-du-Pape and its wine, to Alphone Daudet, and to the animal story, "La Mule du Pape."

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