Speaking of things...
And, in any case, if my daily complement of meds would actually fit in to one of those tiny little compartments, then that in itself would be the only Christmas present I'd need.
The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.
(Yes, I know you know what a sharpened pencil looks like: I just think blog entries without illustrations can be disappointing. And, quite frankly, this particular blog entry is so dull that it needs all the help it can get...)
So, that's it. I've come clean at last. If you want butterflies, orchids, semi-precious stones, or just a really sweet and delightful person to correspond with, Nicole's your woman. She'll do you proud.
*That sentence originally ended with "to choose her own wings". I changed it in the edit. Nicole is undoubtedly very talented, but I doubt she can actually fly.
Precious Bane by Mary Webb
Way, way out at the top of my list this last thirty years, and unlikely to be toppled from that position any time soon, if ever. Also greatly beloved by my mother and her sisters, although possibly not with quite the same degree of fervour.
Forget your Mr D'Arcy and your Heathcliff: Kester Woodseaves is far, far more compelling as a romantic hero than either of them. And Pru Sarn is (or was when I was fifteen, and I have no power to change that perception now) a wholly-believable young woman. Shunned by society for the physical flaw of her hare lip - in a time and place in which such an impairment is believed to mark those who bear it as being in league with the devil - she falls in what she believes to be hopeless love with the weaver. He, of course, being made of sterner stuff than the majority of those with whom she comes into contact, looks past the hare lip and sees the woman behind it.
Now, see, I've managed to make it sound like overblown, melodramatic, sub-Mills & Boon tosh. I promise you it isn't. It's been hugely influential on me, as I have long identified with Pru given that - for reasons I needn't rehearse here - I believed myself for many years to be at least as physically undesirable as her. I've read Precious Bane at least once a year for thirty years, and I never tire of it.
"Kester Woodseaves is your friend 'til time stops." Where is your Mr D'Arcy now, huh?
Skallagrigg by William HorwoodA more recent discovery, and one that I devoured whole on first reading. It still makes me cry. A very difficult book to discuss without revealing the central mystery of who or what the Skallagrigg is.
Now, if I were more IT-competent than I actually am, I might have been able to publish that photograph whilst retaining its clickable link to the store. But I am pants at stuff like that, so the link is here.
Whilst I, er, may have added one or two of this seller's items to my own eBay watching list, I can't (yet!) tell you from personal experience whether this work is as fab as it looks. But I note that the seller's feedback is 100% positive, and that in itself is no mean feat.
*If you're a regular reader, you'll already know what my philosophy behind this is. But just in case you've managed to successfully put it out of your mind since the last time I stood (somewhat precariously) on my soapbox about it and ranted, here it is again:
There are many very talented craftspeople in the world. Most of them create things just as a hobby. However, some take the huge, courageous step of setting up in business and trying to make a living from their skills. Given the nature of my own employment, I have learned immense respect for anyone who is willing to give up a secure, salaried post to follow his or her dream of making a living from what he or she loves best. Such enterprises are fraught with peril.
Professional craftspeople walk a very fine line being charging enough for their creations to keep the wolf from the door, and pricing themselves completely out of the market in comparison to the mass-produced tat which is shipped over here by the container-load from Taiwan.
If no-one buys their work, these people will have to go back to doing something mundane.
If that happens, some of these crafts will eventually disappear. Which would be a great loss.
I earn a decent living, and I am keen to spend what spare money I have with people I consider to be worthy of my financial support.
Plus, of course, I like beautiful things. And I don't have any desire to follow the herd and have the same things as everyone else has.
Despite all my sermonising on this issue, I really don't expect everyone to share my point of view. Neither do I expect people who live on very restricted incomes to be able to make the same choices about their expenditure that I can. Not everyone has a budget for fripperies. It's just that, now that I have reached an age where I have a degree of disposable income, I personally prefer to dispose of it with a good conscience.