I remember when I was 14 and I was allowed to ‘decorate’ my room myself. I painstakingly went through all my old issues of select magazine and cut out pictures and words. Then covered my wardrobe in them and varnished over the top. It was a thing of beauty with Menswe@r as the centre piece.
That was as far as my interior decorating style went though, until I got a bit older and bought this amazing lamp. It was a doll, a girl racing driver doll from the 60’s with a wobbly massive head. I loved that lamp and it sat in my first flat surrounded by toys and a generic Salvador Dali poster. At this time I was 20, I was still going through my Indie girl stage and I didn’t have any mass attachment to any of my stuff.
Then when I was 20 I met this boy who was a mod, so bloody stylish and really into everything from that era including furniture. This rubbed off on me in a massive way and soon I was dressing like a little 1960’s girl and trawling charity shops for furniture. It was around this time that I got three things that still sit in my flat today. The first a coffee table, a vintage round glass coffee table. The first bit of vintage furniture I had ever bought and I was well chuffed that I found it. The second was my J.H Lynch Tina painting. I didn’t even know who he was at the time, but it sparked an obsession and to this day I’m still trying to complete my collection. Lastly was my first vintage cat ornament, It was a gift and I remember not actually liking it at the time. But after a while it came to represent this amazing time I had in my early 20’s.
That’s the thing with stuff though isn’t it, its represents memories of a person or a time. Well it does for me anyway, looking around now I see my Dark Crystal dolls, got them in 2000, I was working in a pub that I adored and had just got my first place of my own, they were one of my most exciting purchases I saved for ages and every now and then I take great pleasure in brushing Jen and Kira’s hair I’M NOT WEIRD. An ugly glass fish that was my dead nan’s, tons of the kids drawings propped up on every surface. Lamps covered in badges, necklaces draped from paintings, records, and old phone, various paintings and film posters, drawings people have done me or cards they have made, far to many vintage china cats, various Russian dolls and now a growing collection of Panda based goods.
When me Ma comes round to help me clean I often have to stop her from throwing away stuff that appears like toot to the casual observer. When actually it is toot but toot given to you by a five-year old makes it quite special indeed.
Dont get me wrong I’m not at the point where I’m shitting in newspapers and filling my lounge up with them, but I will keep stuff that means something to me. Even down to the train ticket from my first date with my lovely OH.
For me it’s not about “LOOK AT MY GREAT BIG COCKING TELLY” Its about stuff, stuff that friends have made or given me, stuff that when I look at it makes me think about a certain time and puts a big smile on my face.
It’s this stuff that gives my house soul, that makes my house a home and also makes it my most favourite place in the world to be and come back to.
I bloody love stuff. My room is full of it. My desk is full of it. My heaving bulging bookshelves are full of it. My parents’ garage is full of a small Brighton flat’s-worth of it. I collect things, I save things, I keep things. I am the very definition of a hoarder. If you’re in a spot of bother, there’s a 99% chance I’ll have the matching button to mend your coat. I’m rarely caught short if I forget your birthday, because I’ll have whipped up a card for you by the time I’ve finished doing me hair. I have billions of books. Stacks of vinyl. Sets of vintage collectable kitchen tins full of rolls of rare french antique taffeta ribbon. An enamel coffee pot I keep fresh flowers in. Framed and unframed art. Antique furniture from flea markets. Unique lamps. 25 silk millinery roses from a canceled wedding (not mine, obv). All of these things are in ONE ROOM. In a shared house. I look around and feel chaotic and messy but cosy and comforted knowing that these are My Things. Things I’ve chosen, collected, found, treasured and chosen to see when I look around. I won’t live in this one little room forever. But I’m not very good at looking ahead. Generally when I find something I want, I get it. AS LONG AS IT’S CHEAP.
I’m pretty poor. I’ve been basically poverty-stricken since choosing to take back a job I quit, working for a small charity, earning five grand less than I was as a graduate. I’m ever so thrifty though, so I kind of get by.
Around every pay-day for the past 7 or 8 months, I’ve found myself in Habitat on the Finchley Road, staring at these two little vases/plant pots. I love them dearly. They are white. With birds on. Blue and red birds. THOSE ARE ALL OF MY THINGS. Blue. White. Red. BIRDS. Tick tick tick tick. I NEED THEM IN MY LIFE. They are perfect. If I was to design a plant pot and a vase myself, this is what they would look like.
If you follow me on twitter, you’ll be familiar with the level of nonsense I have to listen to from my Irritating Colleague. Like how last Friday when I’d been off sick for a week, and rather than asking me how I was feeling or if I was better, she proceeded to explain the location of all of the light switches in all of the bathrooms in all of the houses she’s ever lived in.
The other day when the office was quiet, we were discussing Things We Wished We’d Bought. The things which passed us by. She mentioned a shopping trip with “mummy” about 30 years ago, where she’d pointed out a beautiful enamel brooch. Her mother offered to buy it for her and she said not to be silly, it was expensive. Her mum died, and she has spent the last 30 years wishing she’d bought that brooch. I remembered the most fabulous 1940’s leather bag I found in a bazaar in Melbourne a few years ago. It was a place I visited often, but I wasn’t earning very much then, either. Every visit, I’d stare at this incredible big brown bucket of a bag. It smelt incredible. It looked brilliant on my shoulder. I could never justify spending the $50 on it and the last time I visited before moving back to London, the bag had gone. It’s my Thing That Got Away.
After sharing these stories, my colleague – usually so snappy, selfish, uninterested in others, said: “Can I give you some advice? I don’t have much but it’s important – if there’s something you want – buy it. Because if you don’t you’ll always want it. And if you leave it too late you’ll miss your chance.”
So tonight I went and bought the short little plant pot and the matching tall vase. I own them. I didn’t miss my chance.
£9 well spent.
This sounds all metaphorical and shit, doesn’t it? Could be. If you want it to be. Think what you like whilst I sit here staring at my lovely bird vases. x