I’m not a person obsessed by possessions.
I know we all like to think that– who of us in the developed world want to admit we’ve hitched ourselves to the consumerist bandwagon and that we fall for every TV ad and poster trying to sell us products we don’t need for money we don’t really have. We all want to think we’re immune and few of us really are.
But maybe I consume less than some people. I rarely buy clothes, which of course means everything I wear is faded, all my woollens resembling neglected Old English sheep dogs, all my hems fallen and trailing thread. I bought some knickers a few months ago, but only because the gussets were shredded on the old pairs. Gusset. Is it only me who sees some graphic, anatomically correct image at the mention of that word? Oh, it is. Moving on…
I’m not obsessed by electrical items, either, though I adore Dominic Silverstreak, my laptop. But, then he and I have shared so much, have such an intimate relationship, that he’s no longer just a way to record my mind’s dribblings – we’ve passed into something more spiritual, man.
I recently got a new phone but only because someone else didn’t want it anymore. The old one had become a bit of family a joke, being ten years old and vaguely brick-like in form. But I didn’t see the point in an upgrade costing hundreds if the old one sent texts and made calls- that’s what phones are for, isn’t it?
I do have a weakness, though. Something I find hard to resist spending money on, something that binds me in its spell, that pulls me zombie-like from the high street and into ink – scented caverns of delight. Books. Give me a two-for-one deal or a second hand book stall, and my fingers get twitchy, I’m searching for something, any lump of papery gorgeousness I can buy and feel slightly less myself if I walk away empty handed.
It’s the same with writing magazines. Show me a cover claiming to know the ‘guaranteed way to snare an agent’ or how to ‘improve your prose and make huge wodges of cash from what you love’ and it’s in my bag before I can blink (Okay, I pay for it first.)
Of course, this lack of consumerist urges means I’m the subject of grumbling come my birthday and Christmas. When asked what I’d like I shrug and say, ‘Books. Maybe a book token’. This answer is usually greeted with the complaint that I’ve asked for the same thing every year for decades and people seem to have a problem with buying the identical gift each year, even if it makes the recipient a very happy, book-laden bunny.
I don’t claim this lack of materialism to sound virtuous or superior. I have no control over how I feel. I’m not saintly or highminded and I don’t abstain from spending a fortune on shoes (which, apparently as a woman I should be genetically hardwired to do) because I’m above the grubby exchange of the consumerist society, but because I’m just not bothered.
I do have one possession I would hate to lose.
It lives in a silver cardboard ring box I picked up from a jeweller, though it’s not a ring. I forget it’s there for weeks on end. I only take it out every six months or so, but when I do it’s tarnished, grey and grubby looking. I guess it’s uninspiring and dull to look at, but to me it’s magical, a time machine.
My Tudor sixpence.
Husband bought it for my birthday nearly seven years ago. A big purchase, he spent much more on that tiny piece of silver than he usually would on anything, but it was that coin that triggered my YA novel idea.
That coin made me realise I had to learn how to write before I could give my characters the lives and adventures they deserved. It led to years of writing badly, to a course with the OU, to meeting my online writing group, to us creating an anthology together, to me becoming a published author and winning a national prize. It led to me rediscovering something I adored, that defines who I want to be and what I’d like to do for the rest of my life.
Would I have become a writer without that wonderful gift? I hope so, but who knows. I only know that coin represents a turning point, a love and a confidence in my own creativity that had been missing.
Thanks hubby, for my sixpence and for a new life.
Writing 101 Day Twenty Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.
Now, obviously, if my house was burning down, I’d throw hubby over my shoulder, tuck ‘the boy’ under one arm and Dominic under the other, clamp the family photos between my teeth, then run for it.
But I’ve chosen the coin for what it means just to me and the way that one little piece of metal triggered a spark of an idea which ultimately led to this blog and everything else that’s come from my scribbling obsession.
And for that, I have to love it.