I have a fear of becoming a hoarder. Sadly, this fear does not prevent me from buying all in front of me at junk shops and yard sales, but it does, occasionally, prompt me to cull kitchenware once I bring my latest booty back home.
This week I bought a dinner service (the blue, white and green one below) and some little nut dishes.( Bob White from Red Wing from the mid-50s). There really aren’t enough nuts in the world to fill the dishes of this size that I already have, spread between the Itchy Ankle abode and the D.C. apartment.
And then there was the dinner service–Town House and from the ’60s by the look of it. Somehow I can always find room for another creamer and sugar bowl, to say nothing of a butter dish, but where, oh where was I to put all those new dinner and sandwich plates?
The dinner plates I bought in East Street Market in London in 1990 seemed to be the obvious candidates for the bin. 20 years on, only a few plates have survived and, truthfully, a plainer plate makes more sense–blue and green aren’t great background colors for meat and two veg. The plates are seconds from Grindley (Garden Fruits) and not even the “firsts” seem to be sellable on ebay. In cost per use, those plates have paid for themselves many times over.
It used to irritate me that my father kept mismatched plates in the everyday cupboard in our kitchen in Belfast and I still like all my china to match when I am serving a meal, but now I understand why he found it so hard to throw out remaining bits and pieces of every dinner service he had ever owned: there are memories in china and to throw out a plate or even a saucer (does anyone ever use saucers any more?) feels like trashing a little bit of your past.
Luckily I have watched all those cable tv shows designed to make America clutter-free. The thing to do is to preserve the memory by saving just one of the plates you no longer need, hanging it on the wall, or turning it into a garden mosaic. I made mosaics with the china from my childhood, once I managed to pry it from my father’s grasp. Today I hung the old London plates in the Itchy Ankle kitchen and consigned the rest to the pile for the thrift shop. With luck someone very much like me will buy them and give them a good home.