A spring in my step

Tuesday April 12, 2005

More or less at the same time as Graham put the last dab of paint on the exterior woodwork, I lugged the last sack of stuff from my study clearance project out to the garage. Four sacks of shredded paper, and two of the kind of useless things you accumulate when you’re a stationery store addict like me. A reformed stationery store addict, I might add.

“Well, that’s two jobs well done,” said Graham as he washed his brushes out at the sink.

“Darn right,” I said, running the vacuum over the study carpet. “You’ve made the house look all smart and sharp from the outside and I’ve lightened the load inside. What shall we do to celebrate?”

“Go shopping, I suppose.”

“Oh. That’s really boring.”

“Can’t be helped. You said we need provisions and I want some more plants and stuff to smarten up the garden.”


“You can’t wriggle out of it like that.”

“No. S’pose not.”

So, off we went to Boston, picked up some cheap and cheerful bedding plants, and zoomed round the supermarket grabbing stuff for the rest of the week, adding a few quid more to the two billion plus annual profit Tesco reported today. We were running a little late and I was famished, so we broke a rule and had a light lunch in the coffee shop.

“I wish I could eat things like that,” said Graham, regarding my pie, chips and beans plate while munching sorrowfully through a ham and cheese pannini that had been microwaved into a puffy, sodden mass instead of contact grilled as it ought to have been.

“I’ll do you something nice for dinner tonight to make up for it.”

“Well, ok. Though it doesn’t make this taste better.”

“You should have taken it back.”

“Nah. I seem to have run out of assertive today.”

“That’s a shame. We’ll have to see what we can do to restore your assertive. Why don’t you pop over to Oldrid’s and see if you can’t find yourself a little present? I’ll wait in the car.”

So, off he toddled to rummage through the remnants of the clearance sale, returning not long afterwards clutching a bag that contained a rather splendid red brocade cushion destined to complete the display in the sitting room.

I’d been sitting there, resting up, my window wound fully open and my in-car cassette softly playing solo bagpipe music. There was only a trace of hazy sunshine but it was enough to make the air balmy and good to breathe. I closed my eyes and dreamed of wild places. Just for a little while, you understand.

I’ve had much joy of the cassette player in the car. Some of my tapes have been used in several cars over the years and must be at least twenty years old, and wearing thin, just as the player itself is becoming tired and wobbly in its old age. It’s the last remnant of our cassette playing equipment. Hey ho. When this car goes I shall give the tapes a decent burial and join the in-car CD playing majority. S’funny to think how little time seems to have passed since having a radio receiver in the car was a shameful luxury.

Just as we were leaving home the postman had called, bearing a large but very light parcel from a friend in the States. I hate unwrapping gifts in haste, so I’d left it on the side, resting after its long journey.

The anticipation made slitting the box open to reveal a sea of polystyrene packing shapes all the more exciting and, when I delved into them to find a bubble wrapped picture frame encased in two slabs of protective foam, I was jumping up and down, almost. Sorry to be so particular about describing the packaging. Packaging assumes a good deal of importance when you’re an ardent eBayer. An obsession, almost.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yes. The picture frame. It was a gift of a beautiful piece of quilled and layered paper work, along with an unbelievably neat inscription, all presented in one of the best examples of the frame-maker’s craft I’ve seen in a long, long time. The quilling and paper craft are exquisite. The frame is something to relish just for itself. Together they make a wonderful gift, personal and entirely appropriate because the quilling is of a pair of golden daffodils and the calligraphy inscription is of Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’. Michelle knows me and my annual weakness for ‘The Daffodils’. A truly generous and heart-warming gift, one I shall treasure and which will find a place on my study wall.

I propped it up on the counter so I could take a photograph of it when the light was right and each time I passed it for the rest of the day it made me smile. I like that.

Oh, but I do wish I could do such neat, accomplished craftwork. I suppose that a well-crafted poem has something similar about it, and I used to think that my carefully coded computer programs were craftsmanlike. But there’s something special about the physical actuality of real, live craftwork, something I’ve never been able to manage for myself. Not that I haven’t tried, of course, and I’m sure that the trying helps me fully to appreciate the real thing when I see it. And this is the real thing.

Michelle has a papercraft site at daisyadaygreetings.com which is well worth a visit, if only to enjoy the photographs of other examples of her craft.

Hey ho, there you go. I am still wondering at the hourly lightening of my load following on the great paper elimination project. The hours of work have left my back a little sore, but there’s a spiritual lightening that more than compensates for that temporary irritation. In particular, the removal of the great mass of my employment and career paperwork has brightened my horizons to a degree that beggars belief. I’ve always maintained that, on moving into the third age, it’s much better not to be a retired whatever and that, rather, one should aim to become something else, something new. I’ve tried my best to live by that but I had no idea what a hidden millstone all that mouldering paper represented. Next time I have a spring in my step I shall click my heels, if you know what I mean.


Stickford, Apr 12,'05
The daffodils



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