Posted by: okathleen | January 4, 2009



Trying to get back on track and to shake off the dozens of distractions attacking from all directions is not easy.

Today a full house to celebrate the birthday of Florence. Very tricky having a birthday so soon after Christmas. The shops are full of the jumble of sales and what to give anyway, so soon after a Noel replete with everything a girl could want? I suggested a day at Fibre and Clay. A stylish new shop in Knutsford attempting to make crafts sexy. They offer a day’s course for knitting beginners which includes lunch at the Penny Farthing Museum. To me that sounded pretty awesome/phat/rad, until Eli pointed out that Florence is 14 not 114.

So she has ended up with stuff. Bits and pieces to add to the bits and pieces she got last week. Although I did embrace the pain of visiting Ye Olde Trafforde Centre in order to book her a session with a personal shopper at the new Top Shop. This is a free service with Nicola/Andrea lasting 2 hours during which Flo’s lifestyle and wardrobe is discussed. I am sure the clever people at Top Shop then expect their victims/clients to have a splurge. It would be rude not to. Although Flo’s splurge will relate entirely to any money she receives in cards sent by generous relatives. We hope.

I had my own bits and pieces fix on Saturday, when, purely in the name of research I strode into Help the Aged to see how much the kind lady volunteers had missed me. This is a fine time to buy tat. Clear outs are happening en masse nationwide in order to make room for more, newer, even more useless tat. I bought several items. Some of which I shall speak about later, two or three, I might exhibit at the end of term in conjunction with writings/stories/observations.

Amongst the stuff were three paintings. All watercolours, all the same size and all signed by the same artist.

A B Ibrahim. (1925 -1977,

The subject matter is similar to one of his paintings above.

 Malaysian scenes of kampongs, rice fields and junks figure in his repetoire.

Looking at them in the charity shop, a wave of nostalgia crept through the grey matter.

 As a child we spent many holidays in Malaysia and Penang. Under sufferance  I might add.

My father combined these trips with business in the Far East, and my brother and I would complain noisily at the injustice of not being able to spend our holidays in Rhyl/Torquay/Scarborough like all our contemporaries. There is ample evidence of this in the hundreds of slides taken at temples and rubber plantations and beaches where two scowling pre-teens glare or grimace at the camera. All this came back to me whilst looking at the paintings stacked next to the plastic handbags and incomplete jigsaws.

Stirrings of images from ages long ago. Slowly cranking back, pictures, memories, faces, that was me.

That was me sitting on the steps of one of the kampong houses watching a snake lazily wind across the white sand beneath the stilted bungalows.

That was me on the side of the road tapping rubber alongside a beaming plantation worker.

That was me watching my father being carried unconscious into the hotel after being stung by a Portugese man o’ war in the Malacca Straits.



That was me.

Stuff, objects, things, identity reflected in bits and pieces and paintings in charity shops.

Eli, as usual, groaned, more toet, not more toet.

 He may be silenced when he sees my £2.99 artworks converted into lots of filthy lucre at Bonhams. Art as money, self as stuff.

I’ll never sell them.



  1. they need to be sold asap!!! the house is bursting at the seams with toet!! please, no more

  2. How serendipitous! I posted this just a few days after you.
    Never knew the Man o’War was a symbiont.

    • Obviously separated at birth… but he speaks very highly of you.

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