The following is from my friend, Tiffany (poetic muse, and also the giver of the bright beads and crystal-like wings in my collage) in response to the previous invitation. Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing this.
” The book in the collage was my grandfathers. Its called “The Scarlett Pimpernel”. It’s a swashbuckling adventure-romance set in the French Revolution. It was one of the first adult books I read (very broadly adult that is – it reads a lot like the Three Musketeers and that sort of thing). It is written by a woman named Baroness Orczy, and I now know it is the first in a series. It used to be rather banged up, from years of re-reading (by Oupa and my mom, and then me). When I got a holiday job one year, as a teenager, I saved up some money and took it to a stall in the V&A Waterfront where they restore books. Now it has a leather spine and looks lovely. My Oupa loved books. He loved telling stories. It is a small regret of mine that, when I was young, I used to fall asleep while he told my sister stories about the Marie Celeste, and other airplanes and ships. I still love this book. I re-read it again a few months ago. I love this period in history, and this book is my first connection to this kind of story telling, the kind of reading that pulls you in and that stops you putting the book down until late at night. The kind that makes your heart skip and fall in love with the Scarlet Pimpernel.
The teddy is named Gladley. I got him around Easter time when I was about four. I remember very clearly choosing him at the Hypermarket Pick ‘n Pay in Brackenfell. My grandparents – Oupa and Gaga got him for me. I had a huge collection of fluffy toys: bears and frogs and bunnies and mice. All sorts. They all had names I carefully chose, and I remember talking to them telepathically. Some of them had to sleep with me in bed, and they had their favourite positions in my bed. For years Gladley slept right next to me. I asked my parents when I got him what I should call him. Even then I was very careful about how I named my teddies (later my cars and dogs). I believe in the power of names. Anyway, they suggested Gladley – the cross eyed bear. He has a marked cross to his little plastic eyes. It took me years, and I mean years to get the pun. Gladley – the cross eyed bear also being Gladly the cross I’d bear. Now Gladley sits with Monko (Geoffrey’s monkey – not in a rude way – from when he was young.)
The keys are for my house. My house is not the fanciest, the newest, the biggest, the nicest. It is in a dodgy part of town where people ride motorbikes loudly up and down the road, and two neighbours shout loudly at their wives and children. But I love my house. I have wanted a house probably longer than I have wanted anything. It is a difficult thing to own. It is expensive, a heavy debt I am afraid I will not be able to pay off ever. It is constant worrying about termites, and leaking roofs and crumbling plaster. But I love having a cocoon, a cave and place to curl up in. I love having a place to move furniture around in, and hang things from the walls, and decide what colour to make. I love having a house.
I moved into the house a little before Christmas. Geoffrey and I thought about going to his parents or my parents for Christmas, but nothing ever worked out. So we had our first Christmas in our own house. I bought us a small tree, and I got these beautiful plastic crystal shaped things in reds and oranges from a cheap bead shop in Krugersdorp. One of them in the collage – an intense see-through globe of red. I love red. I don’t particularly love Christmas, but I did love trying to make it cosy and fun and pretty for us last year.
The budha sitting on the book is one of my collection. I’m not sure why I collect budhas. I’m not budhist. This one is translucent white, and it is a replica of a very big one in Taiwan that I went to. There is a place in the back where you can plug it in so that it lights up. I have never found the right plug though. You can walk up the real one, and if you get there before they close, you can go right up to the third eye. There is something lovely about how calm they seem. The budhas that is, and I love that there are so many. So multiple where Christianity is so monogamous. Taiwan was a trip for me. I hated the concrete citiness of it. The gritty, smoggy, smelliness of it. But I loved that people have altars in their homes and shops, and that there are technicoloured budhas and massive lotus leaves in amongst the hills and valleys of the place. I love that calm things like budhas can also light up.
Behind the front things is a shoe. It’s a shoe I have had since I was about 15. it still fits, it’s still in one piece and it even looks good. They are very practical, Doc Martens. The moccasin kind. They hurt my feet like you wouldn’t believe when I first got them. I had blisters for weeks, and they still hurt the first time I wear them when cold weather starts or if I wear them for very long and walk a lot. They are just such shoe-like shoes. I don’t think I have anything so shoe like. And their permanence in my life is something of a marvel to me.”