In heaven, where there is no depreciation
Thursday, 20 September 2012
Like many Englishmen, or perhaps it's just chaps in general, Edward doesn't see the point in getting new things when he already has a whatever-it-is that is perfectly serviceable. On honeymoon, we stood on the dock at Fort William waiting for the ferry to Iona. We had left London in the hottest August on record and found ourselves standing, with the worst sort of Champagne hangover, in the slate-grey stair-rod rain which usually welcomes folk to Scotland.
Edward squelched off and reappeared in a full-length Drizabone, towering above the crowds like a jackaroo in exile. He was giddy with the thrill of purchase. "It's an amazing coat, look these straps go round your legs for riding and if it snows it just slides off this cape thingie. And the best thing," he fished about in the ridiculously huge pocket. Out came a half-bottle of peaty, oaky Oban single malt, whose smoky scent will forever take me back to that squally day of tilting ferry and a springy heather climb, the sudden sunshine on John Smith's grave, dolly's cottages in colours to shame the ferrous skies and above all, the kind of easy rolling laughter that dances on the edge of everything when you are young and excited and let loose on a bottle of whisky at 11 am.
We moved house later that year, not in an organised fashion. Still young and excited, I was pregnant and prone to sudden narcolepsy and memory losses. I packed all Edward's footwear, (the shoes that had been made for him as a 21st present, brown Church's brogues for Sunday country pub walks, his smart black Loakes for tramping the Square Mile, his ancient wellies that were the only ones big enough for his feet, yards of wooly sock and acres of threadbare corduroy) in a black bin back. The same kind that I was merrily filling with all the crap superfluous to our next house and flinging down the chute into the communal rubbish bins. I will spare you the details of the horrific subsequent mix-up, but you may be assured that the sound of rolling easy laughter was absent for several days.
His phone dates from the last century, just. He has tried to teach the bots to be proud of sentiment and frugality. However, we three all have iStuff. Edward's Nokia has sellotape keeping the battery in and never gets a signal in the pub. It has almost a decade's worth of photos on it and every morning he clicks the noisy buttons to read the papers online in Delhi, Sydney, New York. He says, "This is all I need, look at this, I'm reading papers across the world from bed." The bots say "oh Dad, your phone makes us want to cry."
Last night, in a taxi after a long conference-and-drinks in London, the phone fell out of a hole which has inexplicably appeared in the Driza pocket after a solid 13 years of wear. It was returned, hurrah for black cab drivers, to Edward, but had been sat on by a large passenger and may be beyond repair. The bots have been online before school, squabbling about os-something and does he need a cloud. They cannot wait to help him choose a new one. He is inconsolable. I've just put a bottle of Oban on the Waitrose order.