December 4th, 2019


My Bookshelf is an Ossuary

Well, it’s very strange to think that I’ll never be going back to the house where I spent most of my childhood (from the age of 8, but even before that it was my grandmother’s for a while). When the sale finally completes on Friday, I’ll have no official connection left to Romsey, and no urgent reason to there again – although, since it lies halfway between Bristol and Brighton, my brother and I have agreed to meet there regularly and chew a wad of melancholy fat.

Meanwhile, my mother’s ashes sit in a pot, in a jute bag, on a shelf above my sofa. We’ll get round to scattering them at some point, but there’s no hurry. Various piece of furniture are in storage in Bristol, my current house being too small for them. I ended up taking more mementos than I’d meant, on the principle that I could get rid of them later if they turned out not to spark joy (or even memory). My mother was not sentimental about objects, though, and her house was not exactly awash with keepsakes. We left much of the bulky brown furniture that she herself inherited, but I took the cabinet that used to house my grandmother’s television, and that my mother had had made into a cupboard for glasses. I took her childhood copies of The Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh; some of my father’s pots. My daughter, whose eye is excellent, had the run of her clothes.

I thought I was handling it all rather well till I burst into tears on the threshold as I was leaving for the last time, but that’s to be expected.

In other news, I am watching another in the Fate franchise on Netflix – a series that pits “heroic spirits” from myth and history against each other in a war for the Holy Grail. If mythic eclecticism and gender bending are your bag, you’re in for a treat: the last episode pit Chiron, Joan of Arc, and Astolfo (goofiest of the champions in Orlando Furioso – hippogriff included!) against Jack the Ripper, who was ably supported by Atalanta. Astolfo and Jack are both female* in this version, as for that matter is Mordred. I remember when I first watched a Fate anime, I was surprised to find Cúchulainn and Gilgamesh in the same show – but that was just the beginning.

* Jack is a small girl, who embodies the misery and anger of the poor in Victorian London. As good a theory as many.