Box of Treasures by SJV
Last week I was very lucky to be invited to a special preview screening of the ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ movie, which is out on general release on 20th April.
Based on the 2009 international bestseller (it’s sold over 5 million copies worldwide) by Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows – if you haven’t already read it, I do urge you to and Bloomsbury are releasing a gorgeous movie tie-in edition which is out 5th April, so it’s the perfect excuse for a read the book before you watch the film moment!
“It’s 1946. The war is over, and Juliet Ashton has writer’s block. But when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – a total stranger living halfway across the Channel, who has come across her name written in a second hand book – she enters into a correspondence with him, and in time with all the members of the extraordinary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Through their letters, the society tell Juliet about life on the island, their love of books – and the long shadow cast by their time living under German occupation. Drawn into their irresistible world, Juliet sets sail for the island, changing her life forever.”
The movie is great – touching, funny, life-affirming – and there is a particular scene that really got to me. Little Kit McKenna is showing Juliet her ‘Box of Treasures’ – shells, beads, an empty perfume bottle… the precious trinkets of a little 4 year old girl. It’s such a sweet exchange, and I went home thinking of my own, metaphorical, box of treasures, those tokens of love, memories, items close to my heart that cost nothing but mean the world to me.
I’ve managed to amass absolutely no wealth whatsoever during my 32 years of paychecks. I own nothing of any financial value in any real sense whatsoever, nothing of any worth with the exception of Pepper, my leather sofa and my Mulberry bag. I have no ‘pension fund’ worthy belongings, no house, no car, no caravan, no Louboutin’s, no designer frocks, no diamonds, but what I do have are the random bits and bobs that bring me the kind of feels that no bricks and mortar or brakes and motor ever could do, so I thought I’d share some of them with you…
First up is a dish. It’s about 20 years old and, if I look at it with unbiased eyes, it’s ridiculous. Not a plate, not a bowel, not an ashtray, not a pot, not fit for any purpose. My husband keeps his keys in it. It’s been broken and repaired over and over again, each time with less success than the last time. But I love it. My dad made it. I’d run over hot coals for it.
I have a rumble jumble bundle of notes, cards and letters. A handful from every single person I’ve ever loved. Thank You cards, Birthday cards, Easter cards, Sorry You’re Poorly cards, love letters, Wish You Were Here postcards, Christmas cards, I-Saw-This-And-Thought-Of-You notes, Congratulations on your new job, Congratulations on your Engagement, Congratulations on your Wedding. They’ve moved house with me 8 times and I’d never throw them away.
A set of socks that Mr Bookminx bought me. Just because. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas. He wasn’t in trouble. He just got them because he saw them and thought I’d like them. Which I do. I love them. They’ve got birds on…
My fox scarf. My Niece chose it, and bought it out of her own money and I love it. I don’t really do scarfs, not even floaty Summer ones, and I don’t have a particular penchant for foxes, but every time I see it, it makes me smile and makes me think of my Niece and the fact that she saw it, and wanted me to have it, and that makes it more special than any other scarf that has ever existed.
A 1964 Kennedy half dollar coin that lives on my keyring. It belonged to my Dad, lived on his keyring, and all my life that dollar coin sat in the back of the door at my Mum and Dads house. Every night when I went up to bed that coin was hanging off my Dads keys in the back of the front door. Every morning I would come down the stairs and the coin was there. As a child it represented ‘safe’. Safe in the knowledge my Dad was at home, protecting me whilst I slept, and that he’d be there in the morning. I can’t imagine ever opening a door with my keys and Kennedy, without thinking of my Dad and knowing he’s still with me, protecting me, keeping me safe.
So, I don’t really know what I’m trying to say, other than this – hold onto your bits people. Hold them close to your heart. The cinema stubs, the pebbles, the coaster with a giraffe riding a cactus on it, the faded ‘I O U a cuddle’ on a yellow post-it.
Sure, a house with a garden and a library must be swell. Driving a little Fiat 500 in power blue or mint green must be adorable. The knowledge that if it all fell apart tomorrow, you’d have enough collateral to pay the bills and enough savings to keep the wolf from the door must help you sleep at night. Sure.
But actually, the precious and priceless things can mean more than just something. Each one can mean everything. The photos. The Victoria Sponge recipe. The copy of Little Birds by Anais Nin. The box frame that holds three scraps of paper rescued from a very raucous game of ‘Who Am I’… right?