Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 12 February 2016

Little Things that Mean a Lot

I don’t think of myself as a terribly materialistic person, or an acquisitive one, either.

I do like shoes, but I also have a pair of boots that I bought more than three decades ago, and I still wear them. I don’t change my clothes on a seasonal basis, either. I’ve got favourites that I’ve been wearing for decades, and a smaller wardrobe than the husband. I like jewellery and art, too, but that’s not spending, that’s simply a transfer of wealth. 

We all have little things, though, don’t we?

I have little things.

I have pens, for example. I don’t like cheap pens. Cheap pens are horrible to use and they’re disposable, so we lend them and lose them and treat them with little or no regard. Over the years I have bought a number of good pens. I keep one in my handbag, another on my desk and one on my bedside table. I have five in total and I know where all of them are at any given time. I look after them. I look after them because I like them as tools, but also because I know what they cost and I value them.

As a consequence of buying and using good pens, I haven’t bought a cheap pen for a number of years, and so my over all outlay on pens is now virtually zero. Of course, I do have to buy refills for my good pens from time to time, but a refill still lasts significantly longer than a cheap pen, not least because I won’t lose it, break it or give it away. The upside is that I always have a beautiful, reliable writing tool… always! I have five of them and one of them lives in my handbag, so I’m covered.

I generally don’t become very attached to objects. Twice, I have left everything behind; I have shut the door on a home and left, more-or-less, in the clothes on my back. It is hugely liberating. I might not recommend it, because I guess it takes a particular type of person to have the nerve to walk away from the trappings of a life, but I’m certainly glad that I was able to do it when push came to shove. I didn’t look back on either occasion, and both experiences taught me valuable lessons, about myself and about life.

There’s always something, though… There are always one or two objects that matter. Some things matter because they are familiar, some because of associations, some because they have been around for a long time… Some for reasons that are simply beyond explanation. But, there’s always something that matters.

Once in a while, in one of those quick-fire interviews, a celebrity might be asked what possession he would rescue from a burning building. I don’t have many things that would fit into that category, and in the end, I guess there isn’t anything that I honestly couldn’t live without if the need arose.

I’m all about the people I love… Trust me when I tell you that losing a person is the only time for grief. That’s when hearts are broken.

A big occasion, but the dress was a decade old and in my
bag was a good pen and that object
There are a couple of objects that I carry everywhere with me. One of those objects was bought for me by the husband a decade or more ago. We were in Paris and it was a small but extravagant and useful gift. I loved it then and I love it now.

Several days ago, I lost that object. We were at home, and it was one of those strange occasions when one moment I had the object and the next it was gone. In the first minutes I took no notice, because I knew it had to be in the vicinity of where I was sitting in the drawing room. It couldn’t simply have disappeared. An hour passed and I felt the need to look around for it. I couldn’t see it.

Before I went to bed that night, I looked for it for several minutes, but couldn’t find it. It was late and the drawing room isn’t terribly well-lit, so I decided to look again in the morning. The object is small, but not perishable, so I decided that it would turn up.

The husband was first up the next morning and he looked for it without success. I looked for it too.

That little object became our main topic of conversation over the following days. I dragged out all the furniture, lifted the rug, checked all of my clothes and began to retrace my steps and check the rest of the house. 

The husband and I went over and over what I had been doing that evening when I had lost it. We talked about where we had been and what we had been doing. We talked about where our pets had been… We talked endlessly.

I began to fret.

I had been carrying my useful little souvenir of Paris for a long time. I used it every day. It went into every pocket and every handbag and was my constant companion. It was strange not to have it, not to use it. I didn’t like that it was missing, even though I knew that it had to be in the house, in the drawing room, somewhere close to where I always sit when I’m in that room.

At this time of the year, it is my custom to build a fire in the stove before we settle in for the evening… At least on the evenings when we spend some time together in the drawing room. I don’t know why the stove is my job, but since we put it in, I have always tended to it, except when the dort’s boyff is with us, in which case, he builds the fire.

This evening, I poured myself a glass of wine and prepped the fire. I made faggots out of newspaper and I reached a hand into the bag of kindling that sits to one side of the hearth. I had to dig deep for the last handful of wood chips because the bag was almost empty. I put the kindling on top of the faggots and reached in again, thinking there was one last piece of wood in the bottom of the bag, even though it seemed too small, too hard and too heavy. It was elusive, too, sliding around the bottom of the bag as I tried to scoop it up.

Then I got my hand around it, and I smiled. 

I had found it.

I knew before I pulled my hand out of the kindling bag to take a look that I had finally found what had been missing for almost a week. I cannot tell you how pleased I was.

I don’t know how it got there, except that the bag of kindling stands on the floor behind and to the left of the table that stands at my elbow as I sit in my usual place on the sofa in the drawing room. I can only assume that I fumbled as I placed the object on the table and that, somehow, it bounced or fell into the bag of kindling. Being small and heavy, it fell between the wood chips to the bottom of the bag, and I only found it when the kindling was used up.

It’s a small thing, but it was bought with love and I use it every day. I missed it when it wasn’t to hand, I moved everything within several feet of its last known location to find it, and I spent valuable time thinking about it.

Sometimes, objects have meaning far beyond their value or usefulness, sometimes they have associations to time and place and to people, and that’s OK.

I wouldn’t want to be bogged down by a lot of stuff. I hate getting to the point at which I feel that stuff is owning me rather than the other way around (remind me to tell you about the condiment shelf one of these days), but souvenirs, mementos, reminders… they’re rather lovely things, and I was very happy to be reunited with one of mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment