Friday, November 13, 2009
This mirror is the only thing that I've ever bought at a real auction, at the closing-down sale of a yard specializing in architectural antiques in Oxford (I really wanted a Victorian font, and still wish that I'd bid on it, but I didn't have the money - and I don't know what I'd have done with a font, when I think about it). This - set on Library Red, in our dining room, reflects a whole lot of my past back at me: some goat prints, bought in Lyon; plates that used to belong to each of my grandmothers - including a kind of serving dish with a pale purple morning glory plant in the middle; coffee cups with stars on them, which were a present from an old family friend; two rough-cast plates decorated with bunches of grapes - and this is where things start to get scary, because I can't remember their origins. Italy, probably. But where? Did I buy these to eat my dinner from when I was a grad student? It is very frightening indeed to have possessions that one really loves and to be unable to remember their origins - this rather gives the lie to objects being things to remember by. A Staffordshire figure of a boy with a goat - I think from the antique market that used to be in the old jam factory by Oxford station - but again, maybe not. A plaster mould of a woman milking a sheep - that, I know, came from a little junk store in Notting Hill. And a teapot of Alice's. Should one be making an inventory, with provenance, of all of one's possessions? But the only person (apart from a very detail-oriented social historian) to whom this is likely to matter is me - not being able to remember their origins, though, is a form of being forced to life in the present, without really intending to.