I like to think I’m not one of life’s over-consumerist types (says she, who had a 20-minute discussion with various people on Twitter last night about collections of Le Creuset, and colours thereof), but there is plenty of stuff in my house that I have quite an attachment to.
I have plenty of things – some small, some not so – that I absolutely love. My late Granny’s art nouveau bookcase with the silver panelling is one of them. My coffee table is another. As is the slightly shoddily-made but pretty mirror that I haggled down to a bargain basement price from the dodgy Tunisian salesman.
And there are some things that I don’t really feel strongly about one way or the other. Bedside tables bought from Ikea because they’re functional and match the chest of drawers. The little cabinet in the sitting room, transformed from a gramophone player by my late Grandpa, which is now home to a variety of stuff that doesn’t really have another home (letter paper, the camera, nail varnish). A goatskin drum that I brought back from my Gap Yah.
But not everyone is as blasé about the same things as I am.
Helping me pack up at the weekend, and making himself generally useful by shifting heavy things up into the attic, The Writer fell upon the drum as I hoofed it out from under the desk in the spare room where it’s resided since I moved in. I’d earmarked it for the pile resigned to the loft, until it was rescued by TW.
“This is amazing!” he said, grabbing it with both hands before doing that thing boys do with any sort of instrument, and beating out a quick rhythm. “Where’s it from? Can we bring it with us?!”
I don’t tend to give it any thought these days, but to a pair of fresh eyes, I suppose it’s a rather nice little artifact. Given to me when I left by the staff and pupils of the school I’d been teaching in, it’s about a foot in size, and made of a bay and white goatskin stretched across a wooden frame. Looking at it again, I suppose it’s quite a pretty thing. And it has gen-u-wine Tanzanian heritage, rather than being a quaint “faux-ethnic” piece picked up in John Lewis (doesn’t it just. Getting it back on the plane in hand luggage was a pain in the rump).
The same went for a set of pleasingly retro kitchen scales (which also used to belong to Granny Blonde. The woman had taste), aforementioned gramophone cabinet, and a mug with an in-built cafètiere, although not for the Barnet Newman print which I brought back from my last trip to MOMA. There were, in fact, long and strident discussions about whether or not it constituted ‘art’ (I say, good enough for MOMA, good enough for me) and ended in a bout of violent tickling and the compromise that I could bring the Twombly if I left the Newman behind.
Just as well he’s enthusiastic about the Le Creuset, really.