There was a collection of handles on the wall. To put any collections at all on walls was something I never understood at the best of times, like animal heads as trophies or various varieties of fork obtained for show rather than use. Forks with long or short tines. Forks more like garden implements than cutlery. And forks tuned for use between different purposes.
Paintings, of course, were fully intended to go on walls, to be viewed separately as well as cumulatively within the room’s context. Most paintings were framed to give some comfort zone between them and the room. Every room has its own context, you see. Some call that context atmosphere or decorative personality. A room with its own original or inherent quality as a living-space. Or a room whose very sense of existence as a room was force-fed by human intervention with such collections or other imposed alterations.
Well, all forks had handles. Except, of course, one variety of fork. A variety that had tines but no handle and called a Dunsany fork after its inventor. Often used in the old days as a childhood mouth-clamp to prevent irregular growth of the jaws. But more often used today – when fine-tuned – to sit as a specialist bridge on a violin.
So, on further reflection, it would be understandable to have the history of forks upon a wall, just for show, educative as well as visually aesthetic. More of a sculpture as art-installation than a painting, of course. Muck rakes, turnip snoflers, faggot forks (with just two wide-set prongs), dung probers, dock extractors and a species of fork that had two prongs but not so wide-set as the faggot fork, more about the distance between my eyes.
But to have on your wall just the forks’ handles or, now I'm thinking about it, the handles of many different implements, all without their business ends? That was slightly more eccentric than seemed acceptable, don’t you think?
He looked at me as if I were the mad one in broaching the subject at all. And he possibly feared that he was mad, too, in listening for as long as he had listened to me going on about collections on walls.
He was a Lord from the House. An Irish Lord of some standing. I had been invited for an audition as his potential biographer. I had taken my nerves in hand – as, like many writers, I was untutored in social skills – and arrived, brief-case in hand, full of proof statements as to my experience being a writer-up of lives, some dead, a few still living. The subject of wall-collections had arisen because I had commented upon the collection he had on his own wall. I treated the subject as a sort of ice-breaker.
“Handy things,” I said, nodding towards them. “How many have you got?”
“Three hundred around,” he said, in an irritated voice. I could read in his eyes that I was not going to get the job. I could go for broke.
“Are they all safes?” No answer. “With combinations?” No answer. “How do you remember all the codes?” No answer. “Are some of them pretend safes with nothing behind?”
I must have crossed some politeness threshold. I was shown the door.
I don’t suppose anyone ever wrote my biography. My memory now shrinking even as fast as I did myself. If not a biography, at least you have this very memento that is more than what most people get written up about themselves.
A memento of how I spent the rest of my days in the darkness picking at the lock from inside with my teeth.
(Written today and first published above)
Posted at 04:40 pm by Weirdmonger