In praise of doors

Suddenly there was a ring at the door. Sophie’s Mummy said, “I wonder who that can be. It can’t be the milkman, because he came this morning. And it can’t be the boy from the grocer because this isn’t the day he comes. And it can’t be Daddy because he’s got his key. We’d better open the door and see.”

The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Judith Kerr

There is a delightful picture book I remember from my childhood called The Tiger Who Came to Tea. When I read it with one of the children at the kindergarten, she exclaimed ‘tiger!’ Felix, however, is much more interested in the front door through which the tiger enters. So much so, that as soon as he sees the book he cries ‘door!’, then impatiently waits till we get to the page of the tiger coming through the door, then loses interest.

I think he might be onto something.

People are often surprised and amused that one of Felix’s first and favourite words was ‘door’. He says the word with such deliberateness and such enthusiasm, he stretches it out, and he points: ‘door’.

But doors are wonderful. Quite apart from the thrill Felix gets being able to manipulate an object so much taller than him, and the magic of opening and closing it, doors are the gateways to everywhere. The whole world lies outside the door. As soon as Felix learnt to crawl he went straight to the doors and opened and shut them over and over, much to my dismay (as I tried to prevent him from squashing his fingers). Now he likes to walk through them and peer back into the room he has left.

Modern day doors are fairly bland, but in the past people used to take them much more seriously. We saw these doors in Hann. Münden.

And these doors in Salt Lake City.

In our house we have heavy old creaky doors which are quite lovely. I don’t love them quite as much as the previous owner of our house, however, who decided to take down the kitchen door and hang it ‘decoratively’ on the lounge-room wall. I think a door should function, first and foremost, as a door, and I’m glad our door has been restored to its original position.

If you are that way inclined, it is difficult to avoid the temptation to use doors as symbols. The bible is full of them. Churches are full of them. There are special doors that only certain people are allowed through, and doors that are only opened during certain ceremonies. And there is the tantalizing idea of doors to other worlds, for example the door of the wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, a seemingly innocuous door through which adventure awaits.

So I think doors beat tigers hands down. You just never know what, or who, awaits you beyond them. As Sophe’s Mummy says, ‘we’d better open the door, and see’.

7 thoughts on “In praise of doors

  1. Fantastic post. I too love the inviting potential and the boundaried nature of doors, and the delicious paradox of these two aspects of them. It’s certainly been intriguing watching Felix’s enchantment with doors grow from well before he was 1. I loved watching his fascination with their mechanics, and with his ability to manipulate them, as well as his growing realisation of the yet to be discovered potential beyond them and the perspective back into the room he had just left. They have seemed to provide an opening into his own mind and active learning. Perhaps he will be into exploring as much as his parents!

  2. I love this post because when I travel I’m always taking pictures of doorways. I just connect with them metaphorically and their always so different in different countries. I love it. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Hi Mel, yes there are more Mog books… but be warned, the final one is very sad. Had me in tears in the bookshop where I read it… And that that was aged 25!

  3. I love doors, they have so much potential. I went around Italy and France photographing doors and windows. So much mystery, so much unknown, dark and light

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