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House & Garden, Terribly

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As you probably know by now, the 106-year-old House & Garden has folded. Dorothy Parker Society honcho Kevin Fitzpatrick notes this important New Yorker connection:
A magazine that folded today was among the many that published Dorothy Parker’s work. In a story that was broken on Media Bistro’s blog, FishbowlNY, Condé Nast announced today that House and Garden would cease publication in both print and online. Others launched the magazine in 1901; according to the Chronology of New York by James Trager, Condé Nast acquired House and Garden in 1915 when it had a circulation of just 10,000 and almost no advertising. Parker cut her teeth on Condé Nast publications, working for the company for six years, beginning in 1915… Read on.
(Speaking of Parker, I just learned about this short film based on a Parker short story, Dorothy Parker’s The Sexes.) In honor of House & Garden and all the things and people it inspired, I present the lyrics of “Design For Living,” by the midcentury British wits Flanders & Swann. You’ll probably want to listen while you read, so buy the album or do whatever you do to download songs and raise them as your own.
Flanders: When we started making money,
Swann: When we started making friends,
Both: We found a home as soon as we were able to.

Flanders: We bought this bijou residence for about a thousand more,
Than the house our little house was once the stable to.

Swann: With charm…
Flanders: Colour values…
Swann: Wit…
Flanders: And structural alteration,
Both: 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 muse,
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’ve planned an uninhibited interior decor,
Swann: Curtains made of straw…
Flanders: We’ve wallpapered the floor…
Both: 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,
Tres tres very contemporary.

We’re terribly House and Garden,
Now at last we’ve got the chance.
Swann: The garden’s full of furniture…
Flanders: And the house is full of plants!

Both: It doesn’t make for comfort,
But it simply has to be.
‘Cause we’re ever so terribly up-to-date,

Flanders: Have you a home that cries out to your every visitor,
“Here lives someone who is exciting to know”?


Well, why not… collect those little metal bottle-tops, and nail them upside-down to the floor? This will give the sensation… of walking… on little metal bottle-tops turned upside-down.

Why not… get hold of an ordinary Northumbrian spokeshaver’s coracle? Paint it in contrasting stripes of, say, telephone black and white white, and hang it up in the hall for a guitar tidy for parties.

Why not… drop in one evening for a mess of pottage? Our speciality, just aubergine and carnation petals. With a six-shilling bottle of Mielle du Pap, a feast fit for a king.

I’m delirious about our new cooker fitment with the eye-level grille. This means that without my having to bend down, the hot fat can squirt straight into my eyes!

Both: We’re frightfully House and Garden,
At number seven-B,
The walls are patterned with shrunken heads,
Ever so very contemporary.

Swann: Our boudoir on the open plan has been a huge success…
Flanders: Though everywhere’s so open, there’s nowhere safe to dress!

Both: With little screens, and bottle lamps,
And motifs here and there.
Swann: Mobiles in the air…
Flanders: Ivy everywhere!
Both: You mustn’t be surprised to meet a cactus on the stair,
But we call it Home Sweet Home.

We’re terribly House and Garden,
As I think we’ve 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!
Thanks to Penny Wyatt for these lyrics!


“…a most amusing muse…”

I always thought it was “a most amusing mews”


Yes, the copying and pasting of others’ lyrics can make for some amusing mondegreens! Thanks for pointing it out.

Wonderful to have found your site and your guide to my weekly New Yorker…
I can just read this and neglect the stack on the shelf regarding me with distain.

Thank you, kind Continental commenter! Don’t stop reading the magazine, but do stop by when you’re online.

So glad to see that Donald and Michael are still remembered. I am performing a show featuring their songs, mixed up with some from Tom Lehrer and Jacques Brel as a melange of the serious and hilarious at Artichoke Music in Portland, Oregon on March 15th. It will be interesting to note if anyone in the audience knows who on earth these composers were. Still funny and relevant after many years.

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