This morning began just like any other morning.
With forty minutes of tile meditation.
I sat motionless in the lotus position on my tiled floor, back straight, focusing exclusively on a specific tile on the wall. As always, my meditation was accompanied by the dulcet tones of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Out on the Tiles” on repeat mode.
This morning, however, rather than slipping into the customary serene state of awareness, I was assaulted by a barrage of distraction.
As the song repeated and repeated, a fundamental question seeped into my consciousness. No matter how often I tried to acknowledge the presence of the question, and return to my state of tranquil tilefulness, the question kept intruding, demanding that I engage with it.
I dug deep into my wealth of meditative techniques so as to encourage the question to drift away from my thoughts, just as it had drifted in. But to no avail. Each time I thought the question had ebbed away, it would spontaneously burst back into my consciousness. And every time it attacked with an even greater ferocity. There was only ever going to be one winner, and after some twenty minutes I surrendered. A question had been sent my way. I had to seek the answer. And the formidable question I had to address was: “How did the phrase ‘Out on the Tiles’, or more precisely ‘A Night on the Tiles’, develop?”
What do we mean by ‘A Night on the Tiles’?
At first glance, it seems we all know what the phrase refers to – a wild night-out that may well include moments of debauchery. But that was not enough for me. Where would I find the authoritative explanation?
The Macmillan dictionary can often offer the final word. According to this dictionary, a night on the tiles means “to spend the evening enjoying yourself and come home very late.”
A rather tame, limited definition I thought. The muses compelled me to keep seeking. So I consulted the Urban Dictionary, which disclosed “A night out with friends in a town or city centre during which one usually indulges in drinking, dancing, and the inadvertent concoction of hilarious anecdotes”.
Ok, I thought, closer to the mark. But there was still something deeply unsatisfying. There was still no justification for the apparently tenuous link that history had drawn between a night of depravity and the one thing I cherish with all my heart, namely ‘tiles’.
Indeed, my passion for tiles has propelled me to locations all over the earth, in search of the ultimate tile. And this search, combined with my endless years of tile contemplation, now sparked a flame within. And inspiration did not delay.
The Tiled Facades and Interiors of Continental Bars?
Could the phrase be linked to the wondrous tiled facades and interiors of the bustling bars of, say, Madrid? In such establishments, a night on the tiles is certainly possible – both literally and metaphorically. Indeed, so enamored is Tile Devil by gorgeous Spanish tiles that they offer a wide range, including this beautiful silky Alamo travertine-effect floor tile from the quality Spanish manufacturers Azulindus y Martini.
London’s Tiled Dancefloors of the 1900s?
The Urban dictionary disagrees with my above enlightened reasoning, but proposes instead that the word 'tiles' in the phrase probably refers to the tiles that make up dance floors. There is a school of thought that suggests that the phrase comes from London at the start of the last century and refers to a night spent dancing on tiled dancefloors.
The Tiled Bathroom Floor?
An earthier and more lecherous account is provided by some of our bawdier brethren. They suggest that the phrase is linked to a night’s imbibing that is so uncompromisingly jovial, that it leaves the protagonist flat out on the tiled floor of their bathroom, after having communicated with the gods on the porcelain telephone. A man of my devout disposition finds it very hard to agree with such an account. And in any case, if such an event were to take place, Tile Devil would ensure that the protagonist would have the most comfortable of nights, laid out on our warm, toasty Chelsea tile below.
A Higher Explanation?
Such indelicate, uncouth references, however, do not sit well with a man of my temperate taste. My absolute reverence for tiles means I cannot settle for such base accounts, but rather seek a higher explanation in the heavens. And finally, after much patient research that is where I have found the truth – well if not quite in the heavens, at least up on the roof. The fruits of my research indicate that the original meaning of “A Night on the Tiles” referred to the higher calling of love. And in particular, to the amorous nocturnal activities of cats, and how tom cats pass the night scurrying after girl cats along roof tiles.
Well, seeing as Tile Devil does not provide roof tiles, we can’t do much to further feline passion. However we can certainly add romance to almost any area of your home with warm pearly tones as in the photo below.
And you never know, such flooring may inspire those who experience it to a night on the tiles!
By The Tile Monk.
About The Author
The Tile Monk lives a simple life devoted completely to tile worship. He meditates on tiles, about tiles. He no longer lays tiles; that’s for his younger apprentices. You cannot follow him on Twitter or Facebook, as his time on this earth is dedicated solely to the contemplation of tiles, and occasional blogposts.