My world in 12 objects.
Object #3 – Fish Dish
Ceramic serving dish, Made in Portugal, one of two
We found this dish and its companion in one of four – four! – side-boards at my mother-in-law’s when we cleared her house.
The fishes’ scales are raised. Both dishes can be held by the tail. This is the smaller, deeper dish. The other is a longer, flatter platter.
Both dishes were bubblewrapped, unused. Jean’s taste in crockery tended more to the delicate floral.
We speculate that Jean bought the dishes on one of her trips abroad. It was almost impossible to go somewhere she hadn’t been, although she wasn’t one to boast of her globetrotting. Jean started organising group tours while she ran the adult education department at Nonsuch Mansion. She was organising trips and tours for fellow elders into her eighties. She had to cancel one in order to fit in dying.
Her memories of a good trip would include the reliability and comfort of the coach; the convenience and comfort of the hotel; the reliability and pleasant nature of any tour guides. She took satisfaction in her organisational powers, and the fact that people – mostly women – came back for trip after trip. Factored into the price she charged were her own costs, of course. She also got free ‘taster’ holidays, run by travel companies for organisers. It was a mammoth task cancelling all the travel brochures in the months after her funeral.
Jean hated garlic and coriander, and demanded the blandest food wherever she went. One might find that laughably unadventurous. Or one might admire her ability to re-imagine the second half of her life but still stay true to a lifetime’s strongly-held preferences.
A war child (a twin) from a South London estate, she was sharp-eyed, tough and loved shopping.
Jean like to buy something wherever she went; a piece of lace, a necklace, a little doll. The size, weight and awkwardness of these dishes, presumably bought on a trip to Portugal before I knew her, their deep blue and green boldness and the fact that they don’t tally with her taste at all, is an ongoing cause of curiosity. They don’t reflect how she appeared to me.