I have been toying with the idea of blogging for some time, and wrote a few pieces I never quite had the nerve to post. This is one of those…..
Last night, when I was lovingly preparing a splendid roast chicken for my family, (You see I am a man of many talents, one of which is being to prepare one meal from scratch,) I paused for a moment to look at our potato peeler. It is a very basic, plain black plastic affair and it occurred to me that I have had that peeler now for nearly twenty years. I bought that peeler, along with many other cheap household items back in the those giddy days of 1993, back when music was still good, the Sega / Nintendo wars were raging and television wasn’t involved with ‘Reality’ yet. I was moving out of my childhood home into my first bedsit. A one room, shared bathroom affair, humble by almost every measure but mine all the same. An exciting but also very sad time of my life.
A close friend had had a motorbike accident and was in a coma in Northampton General Hospital. I would go over on the bus every Friday, my only day off, to see him, sometimes with other friends, sometimes alone. It was on those trips that I would pick up a few things for what used to be called my ‘bottom drawer’. There was a cheap household retailer, whose name escapes me, just by the market place. Many items for my chic apartment came from there. I think the nurses at the NGH thought I was engaging in some bizarre kitchen based therapy each week when I’d turn up with a washing up bowl or similar tucked under my arm. I think the last to survive is that battered and slightly bent peeler. It cost me 99p, which works out at 5p a year service. Can’t say fairer than that.
But it got me thinking, as I peeled my spuds, how often we discard those items that hold the most history to us, personally and culturally. A quick inspection of our utensils drawer revealed a few other nostalgic oddity; a wooden handle ladle spoon thing my mum got me, a cheese board that belonged to a lovely great aunt, a wooden spoon bought for a rough camping trip. None of them match, none of them look fashionable, none cost more than a quid when first purchased, if I even purchased them myself and yet they are all as familiar in my hand as my wedding ring, as a favourite old book.
My friend, Graham, eventually died without regaining consciousness. He was a great bloke who never had chance to grow into a great man. I’ll write more about him another day as he deserves to be eulogised. I won’t claim that the peeler always makes me think of him, but when I do stop to think, it fixes me in that period of my life, when Fat Bloke was still just Well Built Bloke. It reminds me that the humblest item can still carry great meaning for us. So do me a favour, go and have a root in your kitchen drawer or cupboard, that place where the odd items you hardly use end up. I’ll bet if you look through them there will be at least one item that will return you to another time, another place.
I think this piece has two morals, one, cherish your belongings and don’t be so quick to replace and secondly, don’t go on a nostalgic trip down memory lane when you should be cooking a roast.