I have collected in my time – to the chagrin of my dear beloved husband, Cyril – snow globes, porcelain cats, and Tommy guns, and perhaps I should explain what happened to these old collections before I proceed to my newest hobby. My Tommy gun collection may be regarded as having been discontinued since I collected only two, the second and final one as long ago as 2003. Not only are they hard to come by and very expensive, but they are also highly illegal. There were originally seventeen snow globes but only four or five are left. This kind of collection is known to the expert as a ‘diminished collection.’
As for my cats, whether of the cheapest porcelain or the finest bone china, the collection maintains a status quo of sorts. No sooner do I acquire a new porcelain pussy, than another will get knocked from the mantlepiece by a careless wave of a poker or sent flying from a shelf by an overzealous ostrich-feather duster, to smash into myriad disparate un-glueable pieces on the herringbone parquet.
“Cynthia, darling, will you toddle down to the post office and get me a dozen first-class stamps and an ounce of Condor Mild,” called out Cyril one winter’s morning.
“Can’t you go, dear, there’s rather a lot of snow and ice out there,” I replied testily.
“Look, darling, I’m in the middle of painting the bridge of the Ark Royal,” he called from upstairs, “it’s a critical operation.”
Without wishing to interrupt the painting of the former flagship of the Royal Navy, albeit a plastic one six-hundredth size model, I donned a pair of pink wellington boots and ventured out into the snow.
“Good morning, Cynthia, look out for ice!”
It was Roger Trotter-Smith, our next-door neighbour, decked out in a gaberdine raincoat and red beret, the outfit he always wore, come rain, come shine. Cyril and I often joked about him wearing them to bed. Roger was chipping the ice off his bird bath with a hammer and chisel. “Good morning, Roger, isn’t it a lovely day?” I responded in as cheery voice as I could muster, “and, yes, I will,” quickly increasing my pace so as to exit our property and be on my way to the post office before he had time to reply.
Then, blow me, I saw it. There, lying on the pristine snow at the side of the path in all its glory. A green woollen mitten. It looked so beautiful lying there, such a glorious deep emerald green against the perfect cushion of brilliant white snow crystals sparkling in the winter sunshine. I was so smitten by the mitten, so to speak, that it took me a moment to wonder where its partner was. For surely every mitten has its match, no one would sell one mitten on its own. Or would they? No, that’d be silly. Unless someone only had one hand, I suppose.
So, I just had to collect that mitten and take it home with me, after getting Cyril’s stamps and tobacco, of course. Then it was a question of displaying it. I tried putting it in a glass case along with one of my porcelain cats, but it lost its simple beauty, being contrasted with a piece of exquisite china. I thought it would look even worse mounted next to a Tommy gun, so I hit upon the idea of making a square of white, cushioned silk, and displaying it upon that. “Do you think I should put it in its own glass case?” I asked Cyril.
“Don’t be daft, what d’you want to collect ruddy mittens for? You need your head testing!” was his brusque reply. Not an understanding man, my Cyril.
So there we are. I began to keep an eye out for dropped and discarded mittens.
“What about the poor sod – or soddess – who lost it, then?” exclaimed Cyril, “You could put a card in the post office, you know, ‘Found – one purple mitten, medium size.”
A purple mitten! I think I’d have swooned had I found such an item. Well, my collection currently stands at eleven. They’re hard to come by you know. And normally they’re blue or red. That green one was a lucky find. I’ve started hanging around schools, scouring the paths and verges after the kiddies have gone in, and after they’ve all gone home too. Every now and then it’s ‘bingo!’ a lovely new mitten to add to my collection, but it’s got to be just one, mind. If it’s a pair, then, no, they’re not for me. Cyril says I’m weird, but I don’t think so. At least I don’t spend my time making plastic models of aircraft carriers or dressing in macs and berets, thank you very much!