As a four year old, worms. Taking them to my Mother with a proud, "Verms"! She smiled as she retold the story.
Later, spiders with which to torture my brothers.
Cornwall gave up glass fly-catchers for a fiver that were transported to London and loved to this day. Chelsea and Miessen china were favourites of mine and although I could not afford the very best, I bought what took my fancy in the over-priced shops of Mayfair. Little did I know at the age of twenty-eight that I was being sold beautiful pieces flawed by well hidden breaks. All of which after forty years of central heating have offered up the secrets of the crooked shopkeepers. Or, a pair of Miessen swans, one bought one week and the other bought a couple of weeks later, only to produce a mismatching group!
These purchases have moved with me from house to house, country to country, and have given me hours of a feeling of belonging to things fine and elegant.
My marriage to a wonderful man of minimalist bent has given me the greatest pleasure in life but also the most grief. We have argued about "bits" and "things" and both of us have stood our ground for over eighteen years now.
Let it be known by my nearest and dearest that I am exhausted by the arguments and that all my things are going to Ebay just as soon as I return to Italy! Cracks and all!!! I wonder if there are other idiots like me out there.
Having made up my mind on the aeroplane last night that I will rid myself of all trappings, I began in earnest to clear my London cupboards of detritus and came across a shell with my grandmother's writing, "Malibu, California". No date. I have kept this maybe for forty years but that is now in the rubbish bin. I had copied her wonderful idea and have just thrown out twenty shells recording the boys, AC and my trips to parts various, and dates that cast me back to happier times.
All in the bin now.
In my bedside cabinet I fished out an old bible. Not mine, not covered in enough ink or childish jottings, but my Mother's. Inside a folded piece of paper covered with my Mother's wonderful hand reading thus:
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there - I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the softly falling snow
I am the gentle rain that falls
I am the fields of ripening grain
I am in the morning hush
I am in the graceful rush
of beautiful birds in circling flight
I am the star-shine of the night
I am in the flowers that bloom
I am in a quiet room
I am in the birds that sing
I am in each lovely thing
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I did not die...
M.E. Frye. 1932
After howling for a good ten minutes I realised there is life after death. She had hidden this poem for me to find many years after she died. I think of her every day and now she has spoken to me and now I know why I cannot live in the heart of London again. She speaks to me every day in the country.
But I still miss her.