I consider myself a tactile person. I really enjoy texture and objects. One of my favourite things is an old turned wooden stool that I have known since I was a small child. I think if I close my eyes I can feel every inch of it. Right now I can feel the weight of it, and the feel of the wood; the little flaws and the slight ‘give’ and squeaks that the loose joints create. It’s a lovely comfortable stool that, in my head at least, was a simple apprentice piece for my carpenter uncle. I like to sit on it and play my guitar so even now it is adhering to pleasant stories (to my ears at least).
As I was tidying up the kitchen the other night it struck me that I have a number of other objects which have similar qualities. A wooden spoon brought the topic to light.
A simple, cheap wooden spoon that we must have had for at least 25 years but which has been used so often it is worn down through the work. You can tell the stirring action of the user from the way it is tapered and it has seen action in many successes and just as many culinary failures. I know the weight, texture and dimensions of it just through imagining.
I used to have a lovely earthenware bowl that I inherited from my marvellous Auntie Ruby. You can buy them for 80p these days. Their design is timeless – milky white cavernous interior and a malty coloured moulded outside that I can always remember tucked under my auntie’s arm as she used a wooden spoon similar to the one I now have. The bowl is broken now and it was on its way for some time. It didn’t have the ping of a new pristine piece of crockery. Instead it had a gong-like quality which always indicated a hidden crack. But I still remember cleaning the bowl of delicious ginger cake and rice cake batter in a warm kitchen with a tiled fireplace. When the bowl finally broke I have no desire to replace it. I don’t need more bowls and, quite honestly, the bowl itself was irreplaceable.
I have a small grapefruit knife (I think) which, when I was at University, an American friend described as a Ginsu knife. I have never used it on a grapefruit and I have never heard the word Ginsu before or since. Over the years it has been used for any number of inappropriate purposes. The blade has an alarming amount of lateral movement and unsurprisingly I have done myself some injuries along the way. The plastic handle has a distinctive notch where it was left on something hot and yielded. It’s been camping with us and saw the very early days of me learning to cook. The fact I still use it suggests I’ve learnt nothing but I am not going to part with it.
I do think that these items carry an extra emotional weight because of their location in the kitchen. Sure there are other ornaments and pieces of furniture but these have played a part in my life daily in some cases – through thick and thin and I have no plans to part with them until they are ready.