Robins in the ‘Hood (Object 64)

IMG_1535These two robins, posing with such Christmassy charm in the snow of my back garden a couple of winters ago, have no idea that they are perched on the last object that my Dad made for me. In 1991, for what turned out to be Dad’s last Christmas, although we didn’t know that at the time, my then partner and I invited my parents and Brother 2 to our flat in Brixton for Christmas dinner. This was the first time they had been invited to one of their children’s homes at Christmas and although my vegan cooking was terrible – Dad left most of his stuffed peppers and I think he missed his traditional turkey – they seemed to enjoy the occasion. Dad had asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I asked him to make me a bird table, as our flat had a lovely garden. (I always got him a pair of slippers. He didn’t like surprises and said he needed a new pair each year, so it suited him. This final Christmas I also bought him a copy of the new, comprehensive biography of Darwin, a hero of his as mentioned earlier, which had just been published. He said I shouldn’t have spent the money as he could have got it from the library for nothing!)
I was expecting something basic and functional, so when I unwrapped my bulky parcel on the day, I was thrilled with the beautifully crafted object he had made. It carried all the hallmarks of Dad’s careful craftsmanship and attention to detail: edges were smoothed to a round polished finish, it had drainage holes and dovetail joints and a lovely varnish job. I was delighted with it, and it was mounted on a broom handle in the garden for the rest of our time there.
Which wasn’t very long. The following August Dad died suddenly, and a couple of months later, for various reasons, my partner and I moved into the family home with my Mum for some years. Mum already had a bird table – made by Dad many years previously out of bits of an old washing machine – so mine went into the shed, where it stayed until we cleared the house after her death 9 years later. By that time I had separated from my partner and was living back in Brixton in a small flat with no garden, but I couldn’t bear to part with the bird table Dad had made for me with such love and care on that last Christmas we shared with him. I kept it in my broom cupboard in the hope that one day I would be able to use it again. As you can see, I did eventually move to a flat with a garden, and lots of birds and squirrels, who enjoy regular feasts on Dad’s beautifully made bird table.

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About Hoarder of Babylon

A chartered librarian and curator of my family archives.
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