‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever‘, said someone down the pub the other night. Keats and I agree.
This Christmas I requested ‘I don’t know, something beautiful’. The genius that is my mother who knows me like the back of her hand managed to interpret that statement in the context of my love of culinary items and my rather Howard Roark-esque hate of ornament. This hate does not apply universally; I will wear jewellery if it passes the test of my strict standards of simplicity. And so white and grey are my favourite colours, lines must be straight and Cath Kidston is my arch enemy.
It breaks my heart to reflect on the state of my life at the minute. With 24 more months of my ‘prison sentence’ to serve among other little daily horrors happiness seems incredibly elusive, and being alone only with my thoughts for company does not help any. What do you do when you are so unwell on the inside that the only thing you can do is to overcompensate with outward appearance in the hope that some of it rubs off? I no longer recognise this desperate person who hopes that white porcelain bowls and crisp jacquard sheets will put everything in order again. Nevertheless I have decided to surround myself with beautiful things. And so I sleep in a beautiful new solid oak bed, my collection of Le Creuset crockery is experiencing a steady growth and I feel a teeny bit better every time cast my eyes on my worldly possessions. However the very fact I own these fine things still serves as painful reminder of the reason why everything unravelled for me. Such are the joys of high flying modern life.
That is the background information on why I buy yet more utensils and crockery when I have everything I could possibly ever want. I came across this beautiful porcelain ginger grater in Abbot’s Cookshop on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield whilst shopping for a birthday present for Lily. The present was eventually sourced from The Old Sweet Shop, as I deemed cycling inspired art far superior to a kitchen utility item – to which I treated myself. The grater is a lethal weapon, its spikes sharp as knives cut my fingertips every time I use it. The vitreous enamel utensils and porcelain noodle bowls were a gift from my mother. I have wanted an enamel skimmer for years out of a sentimental longing to recreate something of Czech countryside living in my own kitchen. Painted enamel pots are all the rage in Prague, sold to tourists at extortionate prices and intended as purely decorative items as enamel has an annoying habit of chipping off and, subsequently, the exposed metal corrodes. Enamel kitchen tools are impractical for that reason, hence impossible to find. Unless you live in a nostalgia-obsessed England. Thank you Nigella Lawson for producing this beautiful set. The wonky, shallow-dimpled bowls are part of a 16-piece dining set which, it transpires, has been kept aside for me for a while. What for, till when? Part of my dowry? Until the day I no longer live with people who break and don’t wash crockery that is not even their own. I await the moment with bated breath and trembling trepidation.