Object #2 – Napkin Ring
Silver napkin ring, inscribed, Victorian
A christening present, maybe given by my mysterious Welsh godmother, never seen again after the christening. It had a long life before it was inscribed with my initials, and will, maybe, have others after me.
We use napkins. Mum’s napkin ring is an angled, geometric 1930s design, with her initials. My brother’s had exotic birds and leaves chased into it and my father’s was Edwardian, rims patterned, otherwise smooth. The initials on both of theirs were of grandfathers, great-grandfathers, on Mum’s side of the family. I still use mine, and Will uses one of grandfathers’. A delicate demonstration of matriarchy.
They are impossible not to play with and roll around.
My other christening treasures? A silver cross from my godmother Aunty Margaret, who met Mum freezing and au pairing in Italy on her first year after school. They shared a flat in West London, and married Hungarians. The cross is long since lost between floorboards in Brussels, where I was sharing floor space with a dozen other girls on foam mattresses. Someone will find it one day. Aunty Margaret died many years ago.
There is also a necklace in a little pale green padded leather box with a sharp snap, and a statue.
A photograph of my grandmother and two great aunts in pale best dresses and bows is buried in Mum’s photo drawer. Granny wears the necklace. It is about 1910. The necklace had to be mended eventually, with a little added gold ring. It should be restored, really.
Benison was my godfather. Ben and Lydia let Mum and Aunty Margaret’s flat to them. He had a beard and one shorter leg. Ben carved my statue from the elm that had had to be cut down at the end of our garden. A single solid form, mother holds sleeping child, both wrapped in her rough shawl or enfolded in the tree. Only their peaceful faces are smooth. A brass halo fitted round the child’s head. It disappeared sometime. You want to hold it and stroke its surfaces, smooth and rough. It is holy and tender.
It’s in Mum’s loft.