II. Coffee Tins, Serendipity, and a Somewhat Macabre Request
Although the box is silent (naturally) and absolutely still (of course), when I dip my hand inside there's a buzzing sensation, disorienting, like entering a vortex or a beehive. I feel I must handle each artifact, and at least read a few lines of each page. The box contains the world of another person, my doppelganger, and I'm retrieving samples in search of an important discovery.
The problem is that I don't know what I'm looking for, but I am quite certain I won't be able to leave this house till I find it and I'm running out of time.
Also—and this is most mysterious!—I must share my findings with you. This will assist my pursuit—of what, I don't know—but I know without a doubt my success depends on it. I could be wrong, but I'm sure my life depends on it.
23rd April, 1977—Dear Henry (Lottie's youngest brother, my uncle)
Talking of rain, I had a lovely afternoon snooze and was rudely awakened by crashing thunder, flashing lightning, and a cloudburst of no mean violence. Many hours later it is still raining and in spite of it there was a dramatic sunset which turned the sky a shade of sulphur yellow which blended into an insipid pink which turned into clerical grey. The grass on the other side of the street is a fierce emerald green — as I have only seen in Ireland. I did not really mean to give you "The Artist's View from her Window" but wanted to thank you for the tins of coffee which arrived safely.
|Farham, Surrey, 1938|
18th November, 1977
Our guest of honour tonight is Miss Heckscher — a director of the Company and one of its founders...
It is now time to sing the praises of this lady who for the past 34 years has taken the brunt of my business frustrations — as well as other people's — with complete calm and equanimity. Her great sense of humour over the past three and a half decades has always saved the day. What may have seemed an unsolvable situation at that time was turned into a laugh and a joke by her constant sense of humour. Her powers of exaggeration are out of this world. Heckscher exaggeration, as I call it, has turned many a problem into a happy ending.
Miss Heckscher's warmth and understanding of human problems has helped Plastotype to successfully resolve awkward situations on numerous occasions. For over 30 years this lady has acted as the buffer between a number of members of the Company staff. An admirable tactician in diplomacy, sympathy, tact — full of patience, help, advice and encouragement to those of the staff who need it.
For a number of weeks Miss Heckscher has implored me not to make a speech concerning her 35 years with Plastotype but rather to observe a one minute's silence and perhaps to lay a wreath at her table. Whilst it would have been a shorter ceremony I can hardly comply with this somewhat macabre request of hers.
And now, on behalf of the company it is my pleasure to present you with this VHF radio.
2nd August, 1974—Dear William (Lottie's middle brother, my father)
You will have to allow me a generous handicap when it comes to your "Petites Perceptions" [a biography of my father written as a tribute by his star student, emulating my father's unusual style]. I am not an art historian and am therefore lacking a proper yardstick. I am further hampered by my ignorance of languages and a vague fright of footnotes. Therefore the best I can do is to float well above the altar and let the experts knowingly sort through the bones of the burnt offering whilst I merely sniff the rising smoke and approve the quality.
As far as I can judge I would call it another masterpiece of connexions, of casting bridges in unexpected directions, of creating a certain joyful harmony and performing a handsome balancing act—the latter I particularly admire as a Libra person.
I still do not understand what exactly Serendipity is: a widening of awareness or the cause of such widening or the result? It is one thing to catch an impression out of the corner of one eye and let it go again, or to be without blinkers and deliberately hang on and sort out what may become food for the mind. Do some people have a little storeroom for potentially creative ideas?
This is Friday evening and my little storeroom is definitely empty.