I began this blog 2 weeks ago, what a long time that seems in the passing of world events.
'Best belongings' seem insignificant now, my heart and thoughts go out to all my dear students and followers and displaced peoples, who have had to pack up their lives into a bag, not knowing if they will ever see home again.
I dedicate this weeks blog to peace and hope.
Here inside the botanical room my favourites cups and saucers.
In my kitchen cupboard are cups, many, many cups. Like a squirrel, I have gathered them and tucked them away, as they are the best china, the sort of stuff that in most homes rarely gets used.
Nan had a whole row of teapots on the shelf above the serving hatch, I have inherited a couple of them, and they are fancy; they live in that cupboard too.
The difference with my best stuff is that I use it daily and with immense joy.
Historically, the 'best china' or 'best' anything was rarely used and only on special occasions.
Mine was a big family who lived pretty close to one another. High tea or Sunday tea was a regular 'best' occasion; there seemed to be more significant events. The wider family lived closer and enjoyed more social happenings together. On such get-togethers, the china was laid out carefully, used, and then carefully replaced back into the best cupboard. Even so, the fine china was kept just for these occasions and never used every day.
I am sure years ago, 'things' or belongings were harder to acquire, rarer and therefore more cherished. It's not that I don't love my best china or my other best belongings. It is just that my beloved belongings seem somewhat out of fashion and imbued with times past. We don't have enough close extended family to visit on a Sunday to warrant the 'best' being kept for 'best'.
In fact, I have had somewhat of an epiphany since all of the lockdowns, which is that life is way too short. I really should start to enjoy using the things I have, and love, more often, and doesn't tea taste nicer when the ceremony of making it is embraced?
However, I did not need an epiphany to wear my best clothes more often. I am infamous amongst my friends for wearing any brand new clothes on the day I have bought them, and wearing them the same day whilst digging in the garden. I so rarely buy new clothes that the sheer novelty of wearing something freshly new and super comfortable is rather intoxicating. So much so that the minute I get home, I change into them and proceed with the regular events of the day. Why not? I say to myself, well, the petit rips and mud would tell me why not.
New party dress - no problem, add wellies, then off to the weeding.
New Pyjamas - no worries-shut the door and lounge around for a pyjama day, housework in comfort.
New shoes- no barriers- wear them any day, any way.
Several of my inherited items of crockery are a tiny-weeny bit damaged. My Grandad Showell was a shocker for breaking things. This was a bit actually of a blessing, less to care for and keep and pass on. However, despite the odd tiny chip, I find each fault endearing, a little reminder of when it was loved before.
Years ago, when I was spring cleaning a cupboard, I carefully put the pieces of Nan's everyday crockery into a box to store safely; I never used them as each had a memory of lovely Easter suppers or tea time in the garden on a blanket. Each was the last piece of its set, each heavily imbued in an aura of happy childhood memories. Then I spied Nan's old weighing scales; I reached high to retrieve it from the top shelf and remembered too late that the little ounce weights were stored and hidden in the weighing tray. Alas, they came clattering down, landing and smashing all the crockery in the box beneath.
Silence, a sharp intake of breath, a small tear and then laughter, yes laughter, I called to the air.
"I know you would find this funny Grandad."
I realised that this was the fitting end to the cups and plates whose relatives had all similarly left the set. Funnily enough, it saved me worrying about what to do with such an odd collection. It taught me that things are best enjoyed whenever possible, as not much crockery can last forever.
Grandad was a hoot when it came to repairing things; he had a massive jar of dark treacle coloured glue used to fix anything from china to plumbing pipes to shoes.
The funny thing was, it was the sort of glue that was compromised with heat. On several occasions, a repaired teapot spout would release and fall into the teacup halfway through a pouring, often destroying the cup on landing. The honey pot had a big glued lid that looked so much like honey that it made me giggle every time it was put out on the table.
He would use the same glue to adhere parts of redundant hot water bottle rubber onto the soles of his worn out slippers, ingenious!
Why am I telling you all of these rambling stories? Well, I guess it is my call to seize the day!
If the mood suits you to wear the best dress or make tea in the best china and flourish for a moment in loveliness, then what is to stop you.
As a painter, I have my best watercolour pad, best brushes, and best set of paints; maybe today is the right time to enjoy them and shoo away inner cries of this must be saved for just my best work.
Let's enjoy the good things without grandeur and enjoy them now for the beauty of the moment.
'White Composition' © Billy Showell
'The best stuff'
Sitting still and receiving the dust,
or tucked away and awaiting the rust.
Still in its plastic
or still in the box,
but often forgot.
Quick get it out, give it some light,
clean off the dust and enjoy the delight.
Open the cupboard, throw off the past,
tear off the labels, this moment won't last.
Try on the party dress, wear it to work,
have fancy tea with the wonderful perk
of a beautiful teapot and elegant cup,
a moment of beauty to gladly soak up.
This could be you every day of the week,
enjoying the frocks, the crocks and antiques.
My best Sketch book is from Jackson's - WATERCOLOUR SKETCHBOOK : 160GSM : 48 SHEETS : 17X24CM :
My best paint and brushes, are of course the ones I recommend in my store and I do try to use them every day.
My favourite antiques are my father's drawing dividers, his metal desk (so big and difficult to move) my mums hairdressing scissors ( I used these to trim my own hair in lockdown) and of course the various bits of croc that have survived my own slippery fingers.
Peace love and happiness