Wise Old Owl

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This morning I sat in bed drinking my first cup of tea listening to the news on BBC World Service then the transition to Radio 4 with the Shipping Forecast. Opposite my bed is a huge mirror that looked right in the hallway of the old house but here dwarfs the room. Why I need so many morrors around I don’t know, I don’t exactly have any hair to get right and the last time I wore a tie was for my Mother’s funeral in 2005. But that is another blog in the future.

What I was looking at was a collection of objects which mean something to me. Usually they are surrounded by framed photographs, but I am planning to put together one of those multi frames of family and memories. I mused about the importance to us of what are often objects of no value except sentiment, and that is far greater than monetary value. Most of us have them, they are a touchstone for memory, the people who gave them to us, passed them on or are associated live again; the places become alive.

On the radio a few weeks ago a woman was talking about how important the recordings she made of her mother and father talking were, both had died, she had photographs, but hearing their voices, the intonations, familiar phrases brought memories flooding back. I could have done that, I had the equipment, but I didn’t; I didn’t think until it was too late. But then so few of us do.

When I got up I took a few photographs of the objects, there are more knocking around the place but these are a few that I had out.

The owl with the clothes brushes was on the wall in the hall next to the front door throughout my childhood, I never remember being brushed with it and it hung beside a frame with a print which showed two owls in a tree and the rhyme written beneath – A wise old owl sat in an oak, The more he heard, the less he spoke; The less he spoke, the more he heard; Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird? – what a load of old rubbish! But I love the owl even if it has lost some of its eyebrows.

The sailing ship is I think a model of The Mozart, made by my father, the last one he made. Every now and then he would make these, carving the wood, making the masts, rigging and sails, I’m still not sure what the sails are made of. They are not finely finished but are accurate, he enjoyed doing them and there was a collection of maybe a dozen, I think my brother has a few. They were a part of him, he had a liking for sailing ships, I don’t know why, I never asked.

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The two white ceramic dogs and rabbit flower holder come from our caravan in North Wales. I had a green rabbit but that got broken. They are a reminder of many holidays overlooking the sea, sometimes with the wind and rain lashing onto the caravan off The Irish Sea, and finding things to do whether drawing, games, reading, there were no TV’s in caravans then.

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Most of the other bits have less ‘value’ but more recent memory. The broken handled dog a gift from a friend that looked a bit like my old dog Milo, in fact he looked usually lime the brownish pottery dog as he was always grubby!

These sort of memories are of course personal and often without much sense. But it is always useful to use them when developing a character for a story. The importance of these ‘things’ cannot be quantified, but they are a part of a person and can easily be overlooked. For my character Vincent his first camera has a resonance, but I also have him treasuring the cap badge of his soldier father who he vaguely remembers and the loss of that is quite devastating to him.

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