A tale of two furniture items

I get attached to stuff. Which is why it's nice to know what happens to it come clear-out time. Where does it go? Who are the new owners? What will its new life be like? (I'm always getting told off for personifying things but that's what happens when you get attached, to stuff.)

This week, for example, I sold a fish bowl and a 1950s kitchen unit on eBay. Each has a very different past and future…


The fish bowl's story is quite straightforward. A young dad called David bought it for his two kids, aged under 10, who wanted to keep pet fish. He lives just a mile away and we had a nice chat about how to keep your tank clean and not kill your fish.

I bought the fish tank when I lived in a sharehouse in Turnpike Lane, London. A French lodger abandoned her fancy bug-eyed goldfish and went off to Paris never to be heard from again. Big Fiss, as he became known, moved with me to Walthamstow and then travelled up the M1 on my lap when I moved to Birmingham.

I upgraded his living accommodation to this groovy BiOrb and later bought a mate, Little Fiss, to keep him company. My rescue goldfish lived for another few years and is now buried in a flowerbed in the garden.

In comparison, the kitchen unit's tale is a real Cinderella story. Here it is – it didn't always look this good.

Kitchen unit-1

I was out running one day, along Pineapple Road, in the rain, when I saw a mucky old unit sitting in a skip. But I recognised its potential. I ran straight home, drove back with the car and rescued the old dear.

It was sodden with rainwater, the drawers swollen shut. But after a few days drying out by the radiator, everything worked just fine – that's the beauty of real wood.

A paint job later and it found a spot in the kitchen, housing first aid kit, instruction manuals, gas meter keys, spare bulbs, batteries and some tall glasses that jangled whenever you opened the door. Later, it was pulled out and became a base unit for fruit, veg, houseplants and more. Here is the kitchen jungle:

Kitchen Jungle

There were more than 100 people 'watching' it on eBay and the eventual auction winner was a lady from London who drove up to collect it this morning. She too had recognised its potential but in quite a different way.

For my little unit is not destined for another retro kitchen. Oh no, it's life is to be filled with much more drama than making tea. My rescue unit is to be on stage at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre in London. In this play:


It will share the space with actors such as Adrian Schiller who has appeared in both Doctor Who and The IT Crowd and former EastEnder Ishia Bennison.

Looking at the eBay pictures, I think my little unit does display a good range of emotion, from coy to cheeky and, you'll notice, it even does a little close-up… Now I'm thinking of it less as an auction and more as an audition.

'A Private Life' starts shortly, and runs throughout February and March. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that my unit will appear in some press photos (here it is!). Then, by April, I suspect it'll be back on eBay and hopefully seeking another exciting new lease of life.

Hire/commission me: fiona [at] fionacullinan.com

10 thoughts on “A tale of two furniture items”

  1. You wait. It'll be hitting Broadway by the end of the year. I hope it remembers your tlc and rescue mission when it's rich and famous! 😉

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