“You’re somewhat younger than I expected, Mr Coggleford, if you don’t mind me saying,” announced Mrs S when we finally met. “Are you father or son?”
I assured her that I was Coggleford senior.
“Then what age is your son?” she asked.
I smiled. “Jasper is still a boy, Madam, but he’s a hard little worker and a quick learner. I’m training him up and he’s so set on following in my footsteps that I decided to make him my business partner when he was eight.”
She was quiet for a moment. “And so now he is…?”
I took a breath. “He’s ten, Ma’am.”
I could understand her concern. She’d told me she had a large consignment of furniture, all of which needed renovation. She’d clearly been expecting a two-man team.
“Very well,” she said at length. “I’ll give you a chance. There’s a broken cabinet amongst the pieces I have. If you and your child can make a good job of that within the week, I’ll take you on as my furniture restorers. I’m giving you carte blanche. Do with it as you will, but I need an interesting and inspiring result.”
The following morning, it arrived at our workshop. The glass was missing, as was the base drawer and part of a door frame. It was badly finished with uneven orange varnish.
“Right then Jasper,” I said. “What needs doing?”
“Sand the whole thing down. Cut and shape a piece of wood to repair that door frame. If we’ve only got a week, leave the drawer and use the opening as a shelf,” he said quickly.
“Good man,” I said. “But that’s just the start.”
“I know. The finish is what matters. I’ve got an idea, Pa.”
Well, I set about the sanding and joinery, while Jasper rumaged around the store room. I could hear the clanking of metal and the clunking of paint pots, but I left him to it. You see I’m a good enough workman, but the boy is just brimming over with ideas. He’s original, the way I’ll never be.
He didn’t disappoint. First a coat of matt black paint. Then we had to lay the cabinet on its side and lift some rusty old cogs he’d found on to it.
“Are these to be attached, son?” I asked.
“No, Pa. Just leave them there for a bit.”
I replaced the glass panels and Jasper – such a perfectionist – decided to fill the cabinet with bits and pieces, ‘So that the lady can see it as a working piece.’
I hardly need to tell you that Mrs S was mightily impressed. She hired us on the spot and we now work for her full time, restoring what she calls her ‘Oxfam bag of dollshouse junk’ and creating beautiful pieces of furniture for the discerning customer.