When I was born, in my grandmother’s house, at five minutes to midnight, five days before Christmas, my father was in Alexandria. I still have the telegram with its strips of punched words which informed him of my safe arrival, and also the spring balance fish scales used to weigh me which had belonged to my father’s grandfather Luther.
Luther’s son was pictured with my grandmother Dora on their wedding day, 4th June 1914, holding the top hat which is now in a box with a hinged lid in a cupboard in my bedroom, along with decorations from the wedding cake.
It’s some years since I saw the brass stamp Dora used to mark her shortbread biscuits, but whenever I do find it I know I’ll be able to taste those biscuits again, feel them melt in my mouth and hear her airy little laugh as she helped me onto the chair in the kitchen, and tied a blue and white apron around my middle.
My ironing board is older than I am: although the original square of asbestos has been replaced by a piece of unpainted windowsill, and the blanket and sheet covering the board many times since, the board itself, the frame, the hinges, the bolts and the now-rusty screws are those my father used when he made it, soon after he married my mother.
I have looked at my own ‘things’ and tried to imagine which, if any, of them my children might treasure, or even just keep for its usefulness, however, I suspect that I am as likely to be as bemused by their choices as the owners of the above would be, if only they knew.