This week’s Weekword, chosen by Elisabeth is ‘Collection’.
It was a good word and got me thinking (as, I suppose, was the intention). My house and my life is filled with groups of objects that could be termed collections. I have a formidable stash of yarn (often alluded to in this blog) and a smaller – but expanding – collection of fabric. I am gradually accumulating buttons (it’s my ambition to have a button tin that my children beg to be allowed to play with).
I have always collected something – at various times in my life this has been stickers, china cats, art postcards, perfume adverts, things with ladybirds on. For the last few years, my collection has been cups and saucers, and to stop myself filling the house with them, I have had to set rules to make it harder for myself. Firstly, they have to be singles, so no pairs or sets. They have to be a cup and a saucer, no ‘trios’ with cake plates. And thirdly, they can cost no more than £10. Even with these constraints, I have accumulated a wonderful collection.
All that aside, the collection I’m choosing to focus on is my collection of words and pictures. Since May 1997, I have kept a ‘commonplace book’ – a notebook where I copy and stick things I want to be able to find again – quotations, recipes, poems, wedding invitations, amusing or illuminating newspaper cuttings or magazine articles. I’m now into my third book, and it’s interesting to look back and see how my choices and preoccupations have changed over the years. There are things in the first book (a wirebound notebook with a Matisse print on the front, which I bought when I was twenty in the stationery department of James Thin’s in Edinburgh) that I wouldn’t choose to write in my book now because my tastes have changed so much since then. And then there are some things that I would – including a rather startling love poem written by my boyfriend at the time.
The second book (a gift from my friend Ruth for, I think, my twenty-third birthday) contains things that are much more recognisably ‘me’. There is little in this book I’d not choose to keep now, and it’s also much tidier, with fewer scrappy bits.
The third and current book is going to last me a good while. It was bought in the shop at the Doge’s Palace in Venice during my class trip in 2000, and still has the (considerable) price pencilled in the front in lire. (Rather alarmingly, many Venetians used the £ sign for lire as both words came from the same root, which has led to some raised eyebrows…) It has probably hundreds of pages, and glorious thick, cream paper which makes me want to write neatly.
I love this little collection – I know I can find things easily if I want to read them again, and because it’s like an unfolding time capsule of my life, my passions and my preoccupations.