I am not a minimalist!
Like my mother, I could be described as a maximalist in extreme! Mums lives in a big house, where her possessions shimmer in their place, often causing you to gasp in pleasure. I, on the other hand, live in this delightful but super-small apartment. Within this tiny home, I have beautiful antiques, stained glass lamps, wall hangings and matching cushions that enthral. Every room is jam packed with little treasures. Other people possibly look at them and think: ‘For goodness sakes, why has Gaynor got so much cluttering up her home?’
It’s not a clutter to me. Everything has a meaning and memory.
From my chair in the lounge my eyes fall on five of my most precious possessions.
My gorgeous old trunk, handed down to me by Mums, sits solidly on my left. After my fall, it moved to Durban and shared a flat with me. I had a large room and it looked great at the end of my bed. When I moved to George, my living accommodation quartered. There just didn’t seem to be the space for it. So it was stored in my mother’s garage. About six weeks ago, water seeped under the garage door after heavy rain. It flooded the floor and everything resting on it. The next day, we set about clearing the water and rescuing and throwing out bits and pieces. My trunk was soaked. We took it outside and let it dry in the sun. I really missed my trunk. Perhaps, I thought, if I moved the furniture around in my flat, I could somehow fit it in.
With the help of my friend, B, we moved it into my lounge and placed my television upon it. Anna works for me every Wednesday. When she arrived, I gave her some metal cleaner and asked if she could please polish the brass bits of my trunk which were black in colour. It seemed an impossible task. I returned home a couple of hours later to discover the brass dazzling and a beaming Anna.
“Was the trunk your old boarding school trunk, Mums?”
“No, it wasn’t mine. It was Dad’s. He went off to college in Chambery, France.”
“So, this trunk is an antique?”
“It was before he went off to war,” Mums replied, a faraway look in her eyes. Then coming back to me: “Antique? I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, it must be.”
I watch television in the lounge, and gaze at Grandpa Pierre’s trunk, picturing this young French man going off to college and then to war. He died before I was born. I rejoice in that I have a bit of him here.
In my lounge.
Hanging on the wall above my trunk I have the most beautiful painting of a mongoose by Peter Pharoah. I adore his paintings. Peter believes in painting “a story” which the viewer then completes. I look at his mongoose and am instantly transported back to 1988 and the making of my one and only film, Big Game. What was magnificent was that we spent ten days filming in Mala Mala Game Reserve. I remember going for these breathtaking game drives with a ranger and two actors, James Whyle and Jonathan Rands. The game we saw was amazing. That was when I fell in love with the little mongoose. They were everywhere. Their pert little bodies standing up as they gazed quizzically at us. I don’t recall them being frightened at all. Our curious gaze was met by equally inquisitive stares. Peter Pharoah’s mongoose always draws me in and engages me.
My eyes move on to my gorgeous ‘grape-lamp’ sitting next to my trunk.
I bought it from a dim, dusky shop in Yeoville, Johannesburg. The lamp sat in a darkened corner. While it’s surroundings were of a dim, shadowy nature, the lamp was bathed in it’s own unique effervescence. The grapes were lit up and gave off an almost ethereal quality. How could I not instantly acquire it?
I would love to use this lamp all the time. I can’t. The bulb lies encased within the grapes. In order to replace it, you unhook the grapes and ‘le voila’! Easy enough except with only one working hand, I find it quite a task. So my lamp of enchanted grapes, shines whenever I have guests to dinner. Their exclamations of delight on seeing this bewitching source of light, make my heart glow.
To the right of my chair sits my angel.
When I was five years old, Dad was relocated to England by his company for two years. Gran decided to visit us. This was a monumental decision for her because she had never left South Africa before. She did it in true style. She joined a tour of the Continent and visited lands that she had only read and dreamed about. Here she was, making her dreams a reality. In Switzerland, she bought each of her female grandchildren an angel. She landed at Heathrow and spent a marvellous time with us. My angel smiles at me from it’s place atop my antique clock and I am reminded of ‘my’ Granabelle.
My heart glows.
My bare feet dig into the beautiful Persian carpet spread out on my lounge floor.
B unearthed all my friends email addresses from my computer. She secretly asked them if they would like to send a contribution towards my fiftieth birthday present. She knew I longed for a Persian carpet. On my fiftieth birthday, I opened a card with B’s writing on it. This puzzled me because I had already received a card and present from her. In the card, I read: “Gaynor, all the following friends have contributed to your 50th Birthday Carpet.”
There was a cheque for an absurd amount. Reading that card reduced me to tears. So many people from all over the world had contributed. You have no idea what that list of friends meant to me. My heart simply overflowed.
I call that carpet: My Persian Friendship Carpet!
My gaze is caught by two special wedding photographs above my precious washstand: Gran and Mums. They have both been hand coloured. I love those pictures. They are beautiful and so indicative of their time. In my gentle times with Gran, I called her: Granabelle. Mums has since adopted this name with her grandchildren. They all refer to her as Granabelle. Mums is so like her mother. Her home is kept spotless as was Granabelle’s. Also, Mums sets a place for herself with every meal she takes. No eating on her lap while watching television. Granabelle did exactly the same. Today I often see Mums sitting quietly reading in her chair. Granabelle did that too. Excepting Granabelle lacked the companionship of a dog. Brendan, the dachshund, is Mums’ constant friend.
I smile at that!
Each of us has our own sense of style. There is no right or wrong. Just different. I go into homes that are mimalistic. I love the space and the ‘cleanness’ that confronts me. But that is not me. Photographs, lamps, antique teacups, an antique walking stick stand, a dressing table made by my grandfather for gran……
All of these things mean something to me.
All of them have their place.
I look at everything around me and I sigh contentedly.
This is me!