Sunday, 10 May 2009

On the shelf

I'm a hoarder, as I've almost certainly told you before. It is a problem, knowing exactly what to do with your 35-year-old shards of tangible memory, especially when they are so tiny they could get lost in your pocket, let alone on a cluttered shelf that is already bowed to breaking. 

If you're below the age of 6, or over the age of 80, you can put those little things in a box and call them your treasures. You can take them out and look at them when no one else is around and feel better about everything. Between those ages however, if you carry on like that, people are liable to think you're the kind of person who keeps their money under the mattress and wears fingerless gloves indoors. 

Happily, I now have a solution, fashionably endorsed, probably, by the interiors pages of Sunday supplements. I am the proud owner of a printer's type case - historically home to the letters of a typeface, and now home to my little bits of stuff. Quite apart from the storage salvation it represents, it is also a fantastically absorbing time-waster – time when you really should be cleaning the kitchen, or concentrating on the episodes of The Wire that are amassing in ominous numbers on your Sky+, or having a wash. Hours drift carelessly by as you swap your precious things from compartment to compartment, working out where they look happiest, and figuring out which nostalgic peg will fit in which hole, like an Early Learning Centre puzzle for the readers of LivingEtc.  

I have only just begun, clearly, but I now have a home for:

* a square mirrored badge with Snoopy on it that says 'Start each day with a smile' which I won at a fair about 25 years ago, a fair that could have been in Cambridge, King's Lynn, even Newmarket, but definitely a fair with rides I was too timid to go on.
* my membership badge of the Puffin Club.
* a small tin with Mr Tickle on it. When I was about 8, my mum and dad worried that I was gripping my pen with an over-anxious fervour and developing a writing bump on my middle finger. They fashioned a protective thimble-type arrangement from gauze and tape and I-don't-know-what for me to wear, which naturally I never did, what with being self-conscious and 8. But I kept it in my schoolbag, in this tin. 
* 'Happy Birthday' candles from last year's birthday cake, baked by Miss M, now edited to spell 'Happy Day', and with a chomp taken out of the 'D' by Young Miss G, then aged 1, who quite understandably thought it was a confectionary item.
* A blue hippo from the Thyssen museum in Madrid.
*A badge that says VIP - Visitor In Pennsylvania. I don't know why I own this, but I'm sure that Jones Major also had one, and that it relates to relations in the US.
* Tiny biscuit cutters my mum and I used to cut out shortbread with when I was no older than seven.
* Grown-up cutters, including an intricate octopus which can never be used for fear of a baking-related nervous breakdown – so flimsy would the resultant biscuity arms be that they could never make it from worktop to tray, or tray to cooling rack without multiple amputation and DISASTER and EVERYTHING'S RUINED.
* A badge that says 'I heart J17', from the party after J17 née Just Seventeen magazine folded. I really do heart J17.
* Beautiful but heavy purple earrings like tiny vines of glassy grapes, that cannot be worn since I value my ear lobes finishing in the conventional 'ear' area of my head, and not engaging in any way with my shoulders.

Now that I have a rightful home for them, it makes me wonder which particular hideaway I secreted my Dennis The Menace and Gnasher badges in, and when exactly I will open a drawer and discover my milk teeth in a shroud of desiccated tissue paper.


Big brother said...

If I recall correctly, the Visitor in Pennsylvania badge was a gift from Marcelle, who had been on a very grown up trip to America. I do remember it (the badge) troubling me at the time, having just learned that VIP stood for "Very Important Person", and being totally incapable of understanding the subtle irony in its message.

Jane said...

I look forward to new posts on your blog (bloglets?) but get a bit scared when you've been wrestling with the same problems (problems lite) as me. Scarier still when your solution is the same. Please tell me you haven't been refreshing your cushions with mismatched buttons.