From childhood we gather in precious things, we guard them, share them, swap them, reveal them, horde them and in a private moment stare adoringly at – our treasures. In a sixties childhood treasures included cigarette cards, beer mats and fag packets; sea shells, Marvel comics, football programmes, Penguin books and 45s. An endless list of nostalgia. Over the years as passions came and went – silver rings, flinty stones with holes through the middle, hats, scarves, graphite drawing pencils – all had their moment centre stage as treasure!
More recently the value of such treasures seems to have been in their ability to bridge gaps, increase understanding or achieve some degree of connectedness with the past. This ‘new’ horde of treasure – the kettles, postcards and oil lamps – has informed the renovation of the boat, and is increasing my understanding of the culture of the Water Road and the history of my family.
Recently a mid-Victorian landscape painting on glass became part of this new treasure. It hung in pride of place above the desk. Then, at 1.20 in the morning, it came crashing down off the wall with sufficient noise to wake me. The glass and image shattered. Surveying the scene next morning it was immediately obvious that in any ordinary sense the painting was beyond repair. However, this bloodied and broken painting seems to have become more precious to me since the fall. I’m determined to jigsaw the jagged pieces of glass back together and, battered though it is, it’ll soon be lifted back into pride of place above the desk. After all it’s still a bit of treasure, and I’m loyal!
I also recently wrote about ‘Gaudy Welsh’ pottery and a 99p e-Bay buy has just arrived, boxed and wrapped in lambswool and bubble-wrap. It’s not a prestige piece. But it is a grand piece of treasure nonetheless. And, just as it would have done originally, it’ll find a home on the dresser in the kitchen.