You’d be forgiven for thinking that any literary work that included a traditional Chesterfield sofa, or any piece of traditional Chesterfield furniture for that matter, would probably have to be an old classic, like a Dickens novel or a Jane Austen old-fashioned Rom Com. I’m sure we can all picture Mr Darcy perching on a Chesterfield sofa as he ponders whether to ask Emma that vitally important question. That may or may not have happened, but you might be surprised to learn that the most famous Chesterfield sofa to find its way onto the literary page is actually a creation of the late twentieth century.
So what is this literary classic then? It’s actually Douglas Adam’s ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ That may surprise you, given that the novel is about time-travel, but it’s a fact, and, contrary to popular opinion, fact isn’t always stranger than fiction. So how does a traditional Chesterfield sofa figure in such an iconic work? I guess you could say it plays a supporting role in more ways than one: without the Chesterfield sofa, things may have taken a completely different turn.
Arthur Philip Dent, the anti-heroic and hapless protagonist, ably assisted by his friend, Ford Prefect, just about escapes the Earth’s destruction as it’s demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, seated on his trusty traditional Chesterfield sofa. Ford and Arthur and their time-travelling Chesterfield sofa escape prehistoric Earth via an eddy in the space-time continuum, and find themselves deposited in the middle of Lord’s Cricket Ground at the climax of the final match in the Ashes series the day before the destruction of Earth by the Vogons.
Dent spends the next few years, still wearing his dressing gown, lurching from crisis to crisis whilst he tries to straighten out his lifestyle, whilst satisfying his lust for tea. Needless to say, tea is in short supply in the far reaches of the galaxy. In time the odd couple and their old Chesterfield sofa learn to negotiate the complications of time travel, and Arthur manages to carve out a niche for himself as an intergalactic sandwich-maker.
If all this sounds a little far-fetched and ridiculous, then you’re probably better off not reading all five volumes. I’m not sure you’d want to hear about the human race’s eventual replacement by a shipload of middle managers, telephone sanitisers and hairdressers.