1st Sept 2015

Helsinki, Finland




I was visiting some friends and had brought a present with me. In order for me to transport it safely, I ensured that it was a small gift of four little handmade ceramic bowls. Even so, one didn't make it. It was the prettiest one and therefore had been spared the ignominy of the bin and was superglued in due course.

I looked around their apartment and they have the most exquisite taste. A real feast for the senses. A mix of contemporary and antique. Both artfully and artlessly arranged. Some gorgeous country style flowers from their country place in wonderful old medicine bottles giving a softness to the metals and woods.

It makes me think of all the beautiful things I have collected in my life and travels. I have started to give away the larger items. When I moved a few years ago into a rented house the local charity shop heaved under the weight of my oddball donations, which included an antique air organ the size of a small car.

I now relate these days to an image I have of my mother in the 70’s shrugging her shoulders when I ran screaming into the kitchen having just found the cat doing a rumba in the long series of cupboards where she housed the never used good china and glassware. “Good” she said. “A few less things to worry about.”

I inherited some beautiful things from my grandmothers. A couple of pieces of hand painted china, from my paternal grandmothers sister. A tiny, fine worn to breaking point, wedding ring from my maternal grandmother. These things I cannot detach myself from. Ceramic aliens and monsters made by my son at kinder. A weird book page Xmas tree(?!?) thing made by my husband. Countless tiny things given me by my father. Things I worry over and could never give to anyone knowing that they wouldn't hold the same ridiculous amount of sentiment for them.

My mother who posesses beautiful taste has managed to divest herself of nearly everything. She really has no attachments to anything much other than family and you can’t give her anything, knowing that it will probably end up at the charity shop. Unfortunately for her she created a vacuum which has been enthusiastically filled by my father from other charity shops.  To her credit she doesn't really care. However it is pretty amusing when I visit and there is some weird piece of carpet or some ugly cat adornment that my father has got for a bargain and completely adores.

I used to say that inside my head I was so Zen, I couldn't understand how that translated to total bloody chaos externally. In studying it a little lately I understand that we must sometimes repeat the same idiotic mistakes over and over until it really, really sticks with us that that thing we are trying to do will just not work! One of many lessons learnt: I cannot collect things and be unattached.

Hence now, when I see some exquisite thing, I get a flash of all the reasons for walking away. The “another thing to worry about” 'ness of it. I can finally resist.

So I am sitting here in my friends apartment and loving every gorgeous eyeful. Safe in the knowledge that I don't have to worry about any of it.

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