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Design for Living

Architecture, said Hegel, is frozen music, as you'll remember; Donald Swann's music is often being compared with defrosted architecture. Nowhere is this more evident than in his setting - a setting which has been described by music critics all over this country as "spiffing" - of this song, Design For Living.


When I started making money, when I started making friends,
We found a home as soon as we were able to.
We bought this little freehold for about a thousand more
Than the house our little house was once the stable to.
With charm, and colour values, wit, and structural alteration,
Now designed for graceful living, it has quite a reputation....

We're terribly House and Garden
At Number Seven B,
We live in a most amusing mews
Ever so very Contemporary!
We're terribly House and Garden;
The money that one spends
To make a place that won't disgrace
Our House and Garden friends!

We planned an uninhibited interior decor,
Curtains made of straw,
We've wall-papered the floor!
We don't know if we like it, but at least we can be sure
There's no place like home sweet home.

It's fearfully Maison jardin
At Number Seven B,
We've rediscovered the Chandelier
Très très very Contemporary!
We're terribly House and Garden.
Now at last we've got the chance,
The garden's full of furniture
And the house is full of plants!

Oh, it doesn't make for comfort
But it simply has to be;
'Cos we're ever so terribly up to date
Contemporary- ry!.

Have you a home that cries out to your every visitor:
'Here lives somebody who is Exciting to Know!' No?

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 and nailed to the floor.

Why not ...
get hold of an ordinary Northumbrian Spoke-shaver's Coracle, paint it in contrasting stripes of Telephone Black and White-White, and hang it up in the hall for a guitar-tidy for parties?

Why not ...
keep, on some convenient shelving, a little cluster of clocks; one for each member of the family, each an individual colour? I like to keep mine twenty minutes fast, don't you?

Why not ...
drop in one evening for a Mess of Pottage? My speciality.
Just aubergine and carnation petals - but with a six shilling bottle of Mule du Pape, a feast fit for a king!
I'm delirious 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 and Garden
At Number Seven B,
The walls are patterned with shrunken heads,
Ever so very Contemporary!
Our search for self-expression
Leaves us barely time for meals;
One day we're taking Liberty's in,
The next we're down at Heal's!

With little screens and bottle lamps and motifs here and there,
Mobiles in the air,
Ivy everywhere!
You mustn't be surprised to find a cactus in the chair,
But we call it home sweet home.

Oh, we're terribly House and Garden
As I think we said before,
But though Seven B is madly gay -
It wouldn't do for every day -
We actually live in Seven A,
In the house next door!


Originally from the album 'At The Drop of a Hat'.

The fourth 'Why not...' is missing from the 1959 recording, and the lines:

Our search for self-expression
Leaves us barely time for meals;
One day we're taking Liberty's in,
The next we're down at Heal's!

are replaced by:

Our boudoir on the open plan
has been a huge success,
Though everywhere's so open,
there's nowhere safe to dress!