Earlier this week I heard a fascinating and lively debate on a programme on BBC Radio4.* One thread of the discussion dynamically pursued the idea that everyday objects can be thought precious when imbued with intense personal significance for an individual. And, they didn’t just mean that crumpled ticket stub from the first date!
It was fascinating to think about how a commonplace item can trigger an emotional response in a similar way that a certain aroma evokes a poignant memory. I think it doesn’t even have to be a big, powerful memory attached to a commonplace object to momentarily flip you from the present to some other instance when you suddenly find yourself caught by the clarity of the object you have involuntarily brought into focus.
Recently for me it was a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup. There’s always a tin on my kitchen shelf and several empty tins floating around my home filled with pens or paintbrushes or random office bits and bobs. The green and gold of the tin, the Victorian design and the Biblical quote together forming this remarkable brand that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1880s. And according to the Guinness Book of Records is the world’s oldest brand.
But for me it means homemade treacle tart, very short, crumbly pastry and my exceedingly precise Nanna who was the queen of pastry making in our family.
*The broadcast I’ve mentioned is available online for a year at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s46g5