One Sunday afternoon, a couple of years ago, I was painting the landing (F&B Pavilion Gray) and listening to a very good BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (still on my "to read list" I'm ashamed to say) when the narrator said something that struck me to the core:
"Like so many Americans she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops."
"How true!" I thought, "That may well be what we do. Are we so sad and are our lives so empty?"
Then, as I brushed the walls, I decided that in fact it is a very basic human (or even animal) instinct to collect, to decorate, to furnish, to feather a nest. Then I didn't feel so bad.
Here, above, an early settler has surrounded himself with comforting clutter and mementoes, as well as the necessities of life. He probably would have felt quite at home in the manly room pictured below, suit-cases at the ready, trophies on the wall.
I was reminded of this Vonnegut quotation by a link on Ben Pentreath's excellent blog. This link is not for the those who faint away at the sight of the "f" word for it leads you to a website cheekily making fun of all the desirable bits and pieces that make up our hearts' desires and which clutter our houses with all kinds of old tat. Mr Pentreath is a leading figure in the London design world, an architect who has worked for the Duchy of Cornwall and the owner of the poshest gift shop in the country. Here is his new book, a feast for all who love decorating...
...and reassuring for we purveyors of stuff, for, as far as we can tell, human beings are still acquiring and collecting knick-knackery of all kinds with which to adorn their homes.
Then they go home to do this
So it goes.