My friend Sceptic Tank thinks that a house should be minimal. I think that a house is not a home without stuff. The stuff I like is not the stuff she likes. My old creaking furniture is one thing but why would anyone who can’t see much want to fill up their house with china?
It’s a good question and weirdly, I know the answer. My house is full of the china of my long dead realities. This is the reason I am so attached to it. Every morning I pour milk into small jug that my Mother bought in a Cornish craft shop during a summer in which we rattled round south west England in a camper van singing endless renditions of “There’s a Hole in my Bucket.” I remember the moment, and every morning, when I take the jug out of the cupboard, a warm feeling washes over me.
If a single jug can do this, imagine what an tea service has to offer.
I know the answer to this too, having spent many wasted hours arranging Granny’s tea service on a shelf that is just the right height in just the right spot for all to admire but me. Not being able to see it, in it’s prime position has done nothing to dampen my desire to maintain it, keep it relatively dust free with the handles and patterns angled in just the right spot.
All this sentimentality does not stop me from moaning about the amount of maintenance that is involved, and how boring it is to spend hours carefully washing china. Every time I put it back on the shelf, I congratulate myself for a job well done and forty years of careful custodianship since the said china passed into my capable hands without a single incident.
Smugness is not an attractive characteristic at the best of times and there are many ways in which I have speculated about getting my comeuppance, ranging from a House fire to burglary. I had not considered what unfolded, although upon reflection it was always on the cards.
I was nonchalantly leaning against the kitchen sink, drinking a tomato juice, when Clive the cat appeared and threw himself down at my feet, or more accurately, on the hot pipe next to them. He yawned and stretched and I stroked him with my toe. All was well in the world.
Suddenly, Clive was sitting bolt upright. I knew what he had in mind. I was reasonably confident that not even he, who has so often picked his way with delicacy through my junk, is going to see this through, but he does. In an instant, he’s leaping towards my heirlooms, all four legs outstretched. Lack of spatial awareness does not deter me, and I head him off as if I am defending a high hoop shot for my country. It’s a good job I wasn’t, because I missed, and he landed, like a high-performance explosive, on Granny’s china.
The sound of exploding china and the ensuing shouting might have been enough to bring the neighbours round. What it actually yielded was a nice video of Clive settling in for a tummy rub in their kitchen. Even Bob, who tends to linger outside, ventured inside, possibly eyeing up the potential for new digs, and new servants, after my explosive behaviour in the face of what was entirely reasonable cat antics.
The china is now repurposed as plant pot drainage. I’m saving on washing up but cherishing my memories. Bob and Clive, aka Smashy and Nicey, have forgiven me and we are getting back in the groove.
It’s a good job I know my place in the pecking order.