Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I've been going through every cupboard and drawer since before Christmas and I've already taken a large box and bag to the op-shop. I'm now on the second large box but haven't been near the kitchen cupboards or pantry yet.

I don't move fast. Under my slothlike exterior, the brain is on the move, thinking about what and where to move or change until it's fixed in my mind like a lego set.
My Queen Anne chest of drawers in in a delicate conditon after being opened and banged shut for 30 years by "he who is gone, thank the goddess" so it's filled with fabric and lace I won't need anytime soon. Except for the bottom drawer which was home to my handbags for evening and going out to grand places. 'cue hysterical laughter'

First out was a faux Oroton which was always too big for a clutch but always slipped off my shoulder because of the thin strap. The next was a grey clutch, no marks but because it's vinyl is now begining to get that sticky touch. I bought it for the first holiday withthe boys where we changed out of salty, sandy clothes and dressed (casually) for the nightly hotel dinners. Two in the box now.

My lovely pewter coloured clutch, still without a mark, went into the bag with the matching shoes. A nice set which, even after 15 years, is still stylish for this old bat.

My first ever silver leather evening bag with the glitter clasp. What ever did I carry in something so tiny? I had silver leather shoes in the Louis Fourteenth style complete with silver leather flower bow. I would have kept those shoes forever if the dog hadn't eaten one, not both, I could have dealt with that, but just the one. The bag remains as part of my fashion collection. (it's a good excuse!)

A black velvet fold over clutch which came with a bottle of Opium perfume. It has to stay. Folded out flat, it took 12 handkerchiefs which I gave out to the boy's grieving friends at his funeral. I'd stitched the satin bow to the front and still pinned to it was his last gift to me, a rose brooch.

Wrapped in tissue was a white and silver bag which my grandmother had made. The nylon strips were woven through a stiff net backing and she lined it with moire satin and finished it with a silver clasp and chain. It's not something I would use but I wouldn't part with it.

A little square zip black bag is next. Another give-away with perfume and now I remember why I never used it. The zip goes right the way around and when it opens up everything drops out, never a good option with one of my bags. I keep that as it's just the right size for CD cases which are always sliding over the computer table. It holds an even dozen, woot!

Right at the bottom are two slim black clutches, one leather and the other suede which belonged to my mother and I can still see her heading off to the races with them. She wore black stilletoes, a black dress and a marvellous hat of pink cabbage roses on a stretch knit cap that covered her entire head. My sister wore the hat to a fancy dress party and threw it out because the roses were crushed. I raged about that. I knew to hold the roses over a steaming kettle until they regained their shape.

The suede bag has developed a bad case of hairyness. Back in the days, I would have had a peice of glass paper to sand that off but now a pedi-file did the job in a few minutes. We had to work hard back then to maintain shoes and bags, vaseline on the patent leather, shoe cream rubbed into ordinary leather, it was just like being in the army but nothing was 'throw-away' then. But I digress, back to the bags which were both made in Melbourne not China.

I open the suede one and the brown stain is still there on the silk lining. It takes me back to a Autumn night when six friends had just enough money for dinner and a film which ended early. None of us had to be home until 12.30 but where to go? No boozy clubs in those days but we ended up in the end carriage of an old red rattler train and rode to Frankston and back, having a great time until the last train stopped at our stations. I got out of the carriage, dropped my clutch, stood on it and broke my newly bought bottle of Rimmel eye liner. In those money tight days it was a monumental disaster.

My sister throws out every thing six monthly and starts again. She's not a magpie hoarder like me, even our memories of the same event differ according to our personalities. So while I am having the luxury of deciding what to keep and what to throw, I'm thinking of the families of the last week who didn't have a choice. I hope they're like my sister who can pick up from yesterday and not think about ten years ago. I have a feeling that it won't be as easy as that.


River said...

I tend to hold onto things too. There's not many memories involved, I just don't like to throw stuff out. every few years I open the suitcases under the bed and look at things, some bring a smile to my face and get put back, others have me wondering why on earth I kept or even bought them in the first place. Those get thrown out. I got to the point where one suitcase got almost emptied, so i moved those few things into another case which was only half full by now, and the newly empty one now holds my christmas decorations.

Brian Hughes said...

"My Queen Anne chest of drawers is in a delicate conditon after being opened and banged shut for 30 years..."

I know how it feels.

Link said...

That's very interesting. I'm a bag queen meself--or used to be until I took up shopping seriously at Vinnies et al, and now I look at even a half decent bag and think to myself, yeah its only two bucks, but do I really need it? The answer is invariably. Nup.

I remember being about 7 and losing a hair ribbon out the car window. Nothing special just a blue school hair ribbon. But I had a pang about it as it flew away, something of me was lost forever in the slip stream. I could say it was a moment of 'consciously' deciding to suppress such emotions, but I would be lying. Such pangs as might have surfaced for a moment, didn't hang around and I have grown up to become a completely unsentimental 'chucker', a total pragmatist about 'stuff'. The flip side being, what the loss of a ribbon out a car window stirred up, I know I must keep firmly down lest it get out of hand. Its so hopeless loving things, that get lost, broken, smashed, stolen or squashed. My memory is pretty dodgy, I'm making some connections here. Une Momento But basically I don't have the space, or the certainty of staying there for long.

When in doubt. Chuck it out.

Sorry to bang on its my birthday and I've stopped smoking.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of you today when I was listening on the radio to people who had lost all their craft materials. I thought of all the stuff you have and have plans for that may or may not be realised. If you did not hear it, what I took from it was how much craft materials can connect people restore their sense of place in the world. Sounds a bit silly in the written form by me, but it really did sound important to some people.

lucy tartan said...

terrific post.

Jayne said...

I've kept all my mum's glorious evening bags - don't use 'em myself but they're tucked away for the next generation.

JahTeh said...

River, I made 1 drawer and 2 large boxes go into 2 medium boxes and that's pretty good for me. Naturally the two empty boxes looked as though they needed to be covered in fabric but I was strong.

Fleetwood, Queen Anne is a bit late for you, surely you come in the 'Good Queen Bess' era. Your hair shows a wonderful patina for its age.

Caroline, op-shops have built in magnets for treasure collectors. My sister was the same when we were little and all my valuables were kept in a suitcase including bits of ribbon in case I woke up one morning and found I had grown long hair overnight.
Happy Birthday and what a wonderful present to give yourself, clean lungs. (she says tongue firmly in cheek)

Andrew, I've been waiting for the CWA to organise for craft supplies but I suppose it's a bit soon when there's so much else to do. I'll keep my eye on the craft blogs for details. It doesn't sound silly to a crafter, we always have to have an ongoing project. Give one of us a piece of string and we'll make a bag out of it.

Laura, I've always been a packrat but as I get older, I'm starting to be a bit more selective except when it comes to lace. Parting with a piece of lace is like cutting my hand off.

Jayne, I love you for that. It's the generations down the line that go looking for our treasures. When my grandmother died, the Bouvier sisters got to the house first and threw away all her dresses which broke my mother's heart as she had made most of them.

Ann ODyne said...

I'd like to see another Queen Anne.
and she hasn't got a delicate chest either. It's probably tattooed like that sailor she married.