Owing to a recent rodent induced flood (don’t ask), we have had cause to reassess the value of lots our belongings in the Bailey household. Many items have slid down the treasured possession scale from “don’t throw away under any circumstances” to “discardable tat” with frightening speed. Thanks to the household insurance, almost everything can be replaced. What surprised me was how distinctly unattached I felt to all of my possessions – they’re just easily replaceable things.
It never used to be that way. When I was growing up, everything I owned was almost sacred. I had a massive collection of plastic soldiers which I played with endlessly. Rain, wind or shine, I would be out in the garden digging bunkers and conducting world war across the lawn. I was obsessed by World War II and I had a big boxful of Commando comics which I read over and over.
Whilst these were important to me at the time, they paled into insignificance compared to two hard backed books.
The first was a ladybird book called “In the train with Uncle Mac”. I don’t know where it came from and it was well-worn by the time it came into my possession. It was the story of a journey on a steam train with a kindly uncle. I read the book incessantly. So much so, that it started to fall to bits. As a young boy, I liked all kinds of machines, but especially trains. Time after time, mum had to perform running repairs with Sellotape just to keep it in one piece. By the time she finished, there was more Sellotape than book.
The second was a similarly sized hard backed book with a plain dark red cover. It had no dust cover and at some point in its life, it had been in the wrong place during some decorating and white paint flecked the front of the book. It was presented to me by my uncle Martin. I could tell by the solemnity of the way he gave me the book that he was handing over a precious heirloom. It was a copy of a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
With gravity, he told me that the book I held in my hands was his favourite story ever. He then read it to me. I can’t say that it converted me to being a Charles Dickens fan, but the moment possessed a certain magic all the same.
I feel guilty that I no longer have either of these books and for the life of me, I have no idea what happened to them. I could buy another copy of both these books to replace the ones that I’ve lost over the years, but somehow it just wouldn’t be the same.
- Don’t Be That Writer: The Charles Dickens’ Prodigy (writerlaurenclaire.wordpress.com)
- John Sutherland: The Dickens Dictionary (2012) (beautyisasleepingcat.wordpress.com)
- What Treasures Contained………. (anexerciseindiscipline.wordpress.com)
- VIDEO: Commando comic artwork on display (bbc.co.uk)
- My Most Treasured Possession (withinnormallimits.wordpress.com)