Sunday, October 02, 2005

Reunited with an Old Friend 

Just once in a while, what started out as a chore turns up an unexpected surprise. On my “to-do” list this weekend was sorting out a drawer than wasn’t shutting. Being fitted on screwed-in runners, that made it more than a 5 minute job, and hence eminently suited to putting off until another day. But eventually that other day comes, and this turned out to be it. Having removed the drawer and taken out the miscellany of junk that had gathered down the back, I was just about to put it back again when, squashed at the back and nearly buried, I spotted this old friend:

I’m amazed he survived this long; I made him at school, when I was about 9. I’m sure all his brothers and sisters must have died out long ago. The teacher told us how to make them - twisted wire forms the skeleton which is covered with papier mache and painted. That kind of thing was right up my street; much of my spare time as a kid was filled with making things, so my hands were completely at home with wire and pliers, paper and glue.

I was pretty pleased with the result, but when I got him to school my head really swelled – he was streets ahead of anything the other kids had made. Most of theirs bore a distinct family resemblance to worms, since they hadn’t the patience to build up the layers of papier mache. What really made my day though was that the teacher was so pleased she put it as a centre-piece on the staff table at lunch.

Unknown to me, my mother had kept him, then passed him on to me when she moved into a retirement flat. I must have stuffed him down the back of that drawer and forgotten all about him. I’m glad to be reunited with him – there’s something of me contained within that simple structure of wire, paper and paint; both the me I was then, and the me I am now. The me that had imagination and could turn something conceived only in my head into something tangible and real.

And what a strange coincidence; after writing twice about dragons in the last couple of weeks to be doing so for a third time. Has he come back after all these years to tell me something? That what I did with paper and wire as a kid I can equally well do now with less tangible but more influential resources?

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