This tarnished silver pincushion in the shape of a chick belonged to my mother, but sadly I don’t know where she got it from. It may have been her mother’s, or Auntie’s. The velvet padding in the red, white and blue stripes of the French tricoleur made me think it may have been bought on my parents’ French honeymoon; as did the discovery, after her death, that the pins spell out my Dad’s name, “Jimmy”. However, the pincushion is much older than that, and the padding may not be original. It appears to be Edwardian, and a collector’s item; see here for another example, crafted by the same Chester silversmiths. (And here is another one with the same padding design, so maybe it is original after all!)
For me, the pins arranged in my dad’s name is another touching example of how romantic my parents were when they were first married. I knew them only as my parents, busy with the demands of full time work, three children, and endless political campaigning. But they still found time in their busy day to demonstrate their love for each other. Dad, who worked the early shift at Heathrow so was home first, always had a kiss waiting for Mum as soon as she got in the door after her stressful day at Wandsworth Council’s Social Services department. They always went out for dinner on their wedding anniversary, in fact it was the only day of the year when they did eat out. So there were always glimpses of the romantic couple they really were, deeply in love to the end. My Dad’s coffin carried a dozen red roses and the simple message, “To Jimmy, my love, my life”.
There is no doubt that he was the love of my Mum’s life, and she of his. However, he was not her first love. It was only after my Dad’s death that she talked about the man she had hoped to marry in her youth; she had never mentioned him to us before, having, I imagine, no reason to do so. But that chapter in her life is part of her story, so I will be featuring it in my next post.
With thanks to Owen Llewellyn for these photographs.