Monday 10 June 2013

Charleston Farmhouse, Sussex, UK

Charleston Farmhouse, Sussex, UK
Charleston Farmhouse door - image from Charleston Farmhouse site

A conversation between Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant

Vanessa sighed and looked at Duncan’s back, bent over his latest oeuvre.

‘Duncan,’ she said, ‘We have painted so many frescos I declare myself completely devoid of inspiration.’

Duncan’s impatience was barely discernible but she noticed his slight shrug. His voice, however, was calm, well-modulated when he replied. ‘My dear, we have been painting this place for more than fifty years. I am positive you will make a fine choice.’

Vanessa acknowledged the truth of this riposte but sucked the end of her paintbrush before responding. ‘I confess I sometimes feel we made a mistake embarking on post-impressionism. It was perhaps a little ambitious.’

Duncan’s shoulders stiffened but he did not turn round. ‘Dear heart, we have discussed this many times. I am presently involved in the intricacies of a cupboard door and cannot decide whether to have cherubs or flowers and thus I cannot engage in further debate until I have reached a conclusion.’

Vanessa pouted, though of course Duncan could not see her expression. ‘I was only voicing that which was in my mind, Duncan.’

Duncan cocked his head, considering the cupboard door, and said, ‘Our friends appreciate it. Why, Virginia was saying only the other day that sitting in our drawing room is like visiting an art gallery.’

 ‘That may not have been a compliment,’ suggested Vanessa.

Silence fell. Duncan grunted, a sound that indicated he had made a decision. Vanessa stared into space. After a few minutes she spoke again.

‘Duncan, what do you think of this?’

Duncan continued to gild the latest lily. He had decided against further heavenly bodies for the present. 


Duncan rose to his feet, groaning somewhat at the creaking of his knees and turned to Vanessa. His hands flew to his mouth but were powerless to smother his shriek of horror.

‘What have you done?’ he gasped.

‘I grew weary of so much busyness,’ she declared, a note of defiance in her tone. ‘It calms me to rest my eyes on a sea of one colour. It puts me in mind of a magnolia bloom.’

Duncan glared at the wall, his eyes round with shock. ‘It is so . . . outrĂ©,’ he declared at last.

‘I believe we may start a new movement,’ said Vanessa. ‘You will see.’

And she was right. Magnolia is the colour of choice in UK for new-build homes and those being offered for sale or rent.

Thanks to Tess for this prompt. Go here to read others’ offerings.



  1. I love Magnolias... they always win!

  2. I love the whimsy, the humour, the sheer tongue-in-cheekiness!

  3. Great story, tongue in cheek mood and the last line I can totally relate to. Magnolia - for every wall in a house.

  4. Love this! You brought Vanessa and Duncan to life, in glorious technicolor!!

  5. HA! Your sense of humour is wonderful!

  6. I rather like the door.. maybe without the boobs though.

  7. Ha, ha, very cute. I believe most of my walls are magnolia, more or less.

  8. That's too complicated for ! Mr. G. would only complain if I remove cat paintings from the wall, lol !

  9. And a beautiful color it is.

    Love the confidential tone of this piece. I feel I may have been sitting in the room with them...


  10. Great story. This is how people talk to each other. I liked, ``That may not have been a compliment.`` The ending was perfect.

  11. EEK! Give me those pastel stripes, any day! Magnolia? No thanks...

  12. Let's not forget how quick and easy it is to cover a wall in just one colour.
    Then again, the advantage of "busy" murals is that grubby fingerprints wouldn't show up so easily.

  13. This was wonderful to read, loved your characters and your writing super!

  14. Love it (said she who resides in a house where some of the walls are magnolia!)!
    Anna :o]

  15. The ring of truth here!

  16. I love the tone of this story. Such fun to read!


  17. Hi Janice .. very clever - we do have lots of magnolia everywhere don't we ... I don't mind as I have loads of pictures everywhere, cheery curtains, and Afghan rugs on the carpet .. so my attention is drawn away from the magnolia ...

    Great post .. cheers Hilary


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