A Blog For Ellen week 8

A Blog For Ellen

Object #7 – Fruit bowl

Decorative bowl, Hungary 1970s, with hook and string on reverse


Mum started to take us to visit our Hungarian relatives in the mid ‘70s. It wasn’t until the late ’80s that Daddy could get a visa to go back.

Pottery and red and yellow enamelled saucepans, my first set of plates, a little blue vase with a red carnation in it given to Mum by a courteous friend – maybe Harkany Pista – all flooded back through Heathrow and home to for Daddy to see, along with knitted red and white shawls, lace place mats, dolls in traditional Magyar costume, an axe – an axe! – peach jam. The bright little blue vase with its red carnation delighted Mum.

Neither this bowl, nor the vase that sits next to it, are waterproof. They are supposed to be purely decorative. There was another plate. It crumbled in the wash. Perhaps Mum warned me when she let me have them and I didn’t listen. The vase is stuffed with dried lavender and poppy seed pods and honesty from the garden. The bowl is usually filled with tangerines and lemons and apples and pears going hard or mushy. It sits on our kitchen sideboard. The sideboard is the reason we don’t have a dishwasher (no room) but we do have two cutlery drawers. The sideboard company went out of business. The drawers don’t open properly but there’s nothing to be done now except grope around the back four inches with a very flat hand.

The dish was the lowest of three Hungarian plates that were hung on the wall beside the shelves in the sitting room at Hyde, smallest at the top.

Daddy and his friend Jeff Becker who smoked roll-ups and wrote technical manuals made us a table tennis table that stood in the sitting room some of the time. There was enough room round it to play, just.

If you hit a ping pong ball at the plates you could get a ringing three-note tune out of them. I remember being told off for doing that, but I don’t think we could have ever broken them with a ping pong ball. Those plates had come a long way. They are tough, as long as they are dry.