Do you have many things in your home which belonged to previous generations of your family, or friends now gone?
James Hamilton Paterson in his introduction for September in Ronald Blythe's recent book (yes I know I am 'milking it' for posts at the moment but you have to admit that it has stirred up food for thought in many of you) touches on this where Blythe is concerned. This concerns things belonging to a previous generation.
I made a list yesterday evening of things I have - and the answer to my question is 'very few'. I have a ring which belonged to my mother - not a valuable one but a ring, which I wear occasionally- I have a silver thimble somewhere but don't ask me to find it, I have all my father's poetry books (many of which I bought him as presents) - he loved poetry and had learned many off by heart- and a collection of tiny books which had belonged to my Aunt Nell. Also I have a wooden arm chair which had belonged to my grandad - not valuable but I do love it. That is all I can think of.
James Hamilton Preston talkes of visiting Ronald Blythe frequently after he had inherited Bottengoms Farmhouse and garden from John and Christine Nash in 1977. He talks of Blythe at first treating the house as a shrine to the Nashes (who had been immensely kind to him over the years and who he loved dearly) and speaks of the house as having 'the aura of a museum of Bloomsburyana.'
He tried to persuade him to get rid of some of this old stuff and bring in his own so that the place became his rather than this museum. And finally he agreed and together they make a bonfire in the garden. One of the things they burn is a very motheaten chaise which obviously from the state of it had been in the house for a very long time.
It caught fire very easily and was soon reduced to a pile of dust. Belatedly Blythe regretted having got rid of it, listing the folk who had probably sat on it:
Dora Carrington, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, EM Forster.- all long dead but revered both by John and Christine Nash as well as by Ronald Blythe.
I couldn't wait to read this passage to my son who is himself a writer, and who both literally and metaphorically kneels at the feet of Virginia Woolf who is his favourite writer. He was - as I expected - horrified. "I would have kept it. I would have searched for a very similar fabric and had it restored".
What would you have done?