Tim Key: I have a new visitor in my lounge. I'm considering letting it stay


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The Independent Online

I'm sat in my lounge, looking across the room at my new table. Well, I say 'my'. It's not mine yet. The fact of the matter is it's here on a trial basis. I'm seeing how I like it for a few days before deciding whether or not I want to offer it something more long-term. It has three days to prove itself before I either buy it or take it back to whence it came. I think my mind's almost made up, though. I think I'm falling in love with it.

I have a great relationship with the shop next door these days. I bought one of their really expensive lampshades about a year ago and a few weeks back I bought a weird tin-box-thing, so my stock is high in there. I sometimes go for a browse and the eccentric French proprietor walks me round her trinkets. She'll flail a Gallic hand at a reclaimed aluminium coffee table here, a medium-sized Persian rug there. I'll traipse behind her obediently, swimming in her syrupy Parisian accent and ruling out buying her wares based on price.

But when she saw my jaw slacken in front of this distressed shabby-chic occasional table yesterday, she threw me a curve ball that I found impossible to swerve. "Take it away," she oozed, "see how it feels in your flat." I could hardly say no. "If you don't like it, bring it back." I melted. And now here it is. On trial.

The pressure's on for my table. It has until tomorrow to convince me to take it on full-time. It's in the corner, under the window, standing proud next to my poor yucca. It's taking the weight of my house phone very nicely, and the sun is bouncing off it in a way that is, to say the least, pleasing. It looks pretty. Yesterday, I tried it out next to my front door. It jutted out a bit there but you couldn't say it did a bad job. I returned home from the pub and put my house keys and Thinsulate gloves on it. Again, it handled it.

It's hip-high, this table. It's not built for storage, per se. It's eye candy, really. That said, it does have a modest drawer right at the top. I sometimes fantasise about things that I could keep in that drawer. I can imagine putting unopened packets of batteries in there. Maybe my bicycle pump. Tea lights. It also has a shelf right at the bottom. I've popped a letter on there at the moment, but I'm starting to think I could put a plant on there. Maybe a cactus. Or a fruit bowl? I'd be interested to see if a fruit bowl would look OK that low down.

I feel for my table. I know it's broadly speaking inanimate, but it must sense it's being judged. It wouldn't be human if it didn't feel my eyes boring into it. Sometimes I go over and make minor adjustments to its angle. If I was putting a prospective flatmate on trial, I think I'd be much more respectful. I sometimes stroke its legs or slide its drawer in and out. It just sits impassively. Dignified. Sometimes I tap a knuckle on its surface and purr.

Realistically, I'm not taking it back. It has become less a question of whether I keep it and more a question of which room it ends up in. I became so enchanted with it last night, I considered giving it a run-out where the telly is.

That was never the plan. But then again I never planned to fall in love with it this much. I think back to Thierry Henry. He was a winger when Arsène Wenger bought him, but Wenger soon converted the handsome swine into a prolific centre forward. I think that could happen with this distressed shabby-chic occasional table. I think it will become the focal point.

I lean back and smile at it. It's too nice. I pull my iPhone out, subtly take a couple of photos. I'll take a look at it in my bedroom tomorrow, but realistically this is all done. It's staying.