Thursday, 13 February 2014

Favourite Things

Stuff accumulates. It creeps into the house bit by bit, initially eagerly justifying its presence before falling into disuse and skulking in drawers, cupboards, lofts and garages. I swear it is breeding there right now! There are definitely no-go areas in my house, drawers and cupboards full of discarded things that I can't quite decide what to do with.  The loft is another country...

Of course, there has been much de-cluttering over the years, much editing of possessions as our needs have changed and we have moved from house to house.  There have been car boot sales, garage sales and many visits to the charity shop and the tip, but still some things continue to make the cut for whatever reason.  I still keep a few of the children's clothes from when they were tiny - nothing quite so well evokes a time and a place.  The other day, I tried to throw out some old cookery books, but made the mistake of looking through them first and found myself lost in another world.  Our eating and cooking habits have changed greatly in the 30 years or so since I first acquired them but still they engaged me and earned a reprieve.

I was thinking recently about what I still hold onto from the time I first came to live in London in the 1970's to start my independent life; my early forays into re-inventing myself and attempts at home-making and these are some of my favourite things.

I found this amazing dress in a vintage shop in Covent Garden shortly after I moved to London and started my first job, moved into my first London flat share.  It is an original 1920's silk/satin dress and I wore it to the parties I attended at the time in South London with students from Guy's, Tommy's and King's (are they still there?) who lived in the flat below.  Wafting around in a maxi dress felt so good.  Of course I fell for the handsome, raffish young medical student I met there who promptly broke my heart, instead of the devoted, smitten but less viscerally attractive young dental student who would have cherished me!  I know better now.

The dress is nearly a 100 years old and deserves another reincarnation soon - I think it still has a few more parties in it and maxi dresses are fashionable again. Perhaps one of my new daughters (in and out of law) will adopt it one day.

I couldn't afford this lovely cream throw that I found in Heals in Tottenham Court Road when I was working at the Middlesex but I loved it so much that I bought it anyway and it has graced various sofas in many houses over the years and more than earned its keep.

Children have curled up on it to watch films after school, puppies have jumped up on it for illicit cuddles and it is a favourite venue for my cats who like to sit along the top, making a mucky indentation lined with shed fur and muddy paw prints, but it all just washes off and looks as good as new again.

This colourful enamel tray came from Nice Irma's Floating Carpet, a hippy emporium in Goodge Street, around the same time and it has brightened up the work surface in every kitchen I have ever had.  It is still in daily use for our early morning cup of tea in bed.  I was drawn to the strong colours which are still as sharp today as when I bought it.  
I love the way some things just form the fabric of a life and translate from one place and time to another, providing a thread of continuity, each with their own story to tell and all part of my sons' memories of home, wherever home might be.