Only Connect

Paper Chains

Something slowed the traffic down to a crawl and then a halt as I drove through Brixton market. A crash? A police incident? No – peering ahead I saw that the drama was one of opportunistic exchange – the oncoming bus driver was taking delivery of his Christmas shopping – a shiny circular dish-rack!

Bus Driver

A week or so ago the early train I was travelling in to an appointment in Reading was suddenly stopped at Ascot and we were all turfed out into the frosty morning – the unfortunate victims of a burst water-main at Bracknell.  Dozens of travellers – herded, shivering, confused – waited to be squashed into some very few-and-far-between taxis and transported onward. I became one of a breakaway group wanting to get directly to our destinations without detours via other unknown stations. Finally our car arrived and in we squeezed; I suggested that we could, like the Canterbury pilgrims, each tell a story as we travelled. And indeed the stories revealed that we four thrown-togethers comprised a former homicide detective, an archaeologist, a librarian and myself – quite a collection of intrepid foragers – sounds like the beginning of rather an elaborate joke in itself!  Some tales were told as we shared our unexpected proximity and then we dispersed and went on to try to recover lost time at our various appointments. On the return journey the archaeologist and I encountered one another again – more stories were exchanged. They made the entertaining best of a rather inauspicious start.

Ascot Station

New Christmas StampsI’ve had a lot of fun sticking stamps on envelopes this week. All through the year I’ve been buying the special editions marking particular events – the Queen’s jubilee, fashion exhibitions, crown jewels, Olympic gold medallists, Dickens anniversary, that sort of thing – and as I distributed these amongst the addressees I was able to recall the exciting year  of 2012. I only had to buy twenty of the new santa stamps – it would be fun to design stamps wouldn’t it?

Old Luggage Labels

Penfold PillarboxI usually use the red pillar box up the road – a rather quaint hexagonal item. A new acquaintance I recently met on her travels in Europe is the American fabric-lover Jennefer Penfold; she came to tea the other day bringing her great-niece. On leaving my flat that young woman noticed our neighbourhood post-box and identified it as a mid 19th century ‘Penfold’! I knew nothing of the  Victorian architect Mr P, but in sharing a name my visitors had an interest. And what an apt name for a man concerned with directing the mail. As I ease my too-big envelopes into the tiny slot I often think of the elegant smallness of earlier letters and see in my mind’s eye the addresses carefully handwritten or typed on narrow cream rectangles and the simple bright royal stamps beaming in the corner.

Penny Black

With any luck we will all be writing our ‘thank you’ letters in a few days’ time. You may need some nice cards for this – visit the shop and buy in a box of birds, a crate of creatures, a bunch of blooms – cards packed in themed groups, five different designs to a pack.

Crate Of Creatures

Another little group of five has blossomed on my wall: pictures of the women in my family – five generations of us. My two grannies, when left to fend for themselves, both turned their hands to sewing – the glamorous Mayfair milliner and the inventive countrywoman seamstress. My mum, an actress, sits there in her rosy bedroom running the world from her morning bed – typically on the ‘phone, lined block and pen to the ready for the lists to be written, the scripts to be underlined. There are my sister and I laughing together, then another pair of sisters – her two dark daughters my smiling nieces, and in turn their daughters – the current  generation of beautiful creative cousins. It’s a lovely collection.

5 Generations

Merry Christmas to you all – and happy days till we meet again in the New Year. And by the way the book has had some lovely reviews including in The New York Times and Womens Wear Daily in the US.

Smiling Santas

Thanks to Alan, Molly, Jennefer and Chelsea, and E M Forster.

Paper Garlands

14 thoughts on “Only Connect

  1. How I wish I’d been in that cab with you – what fun, and what a wonderful way to pass the time with strangers! Well, strangers no more . . .
    I’m going to hang your beautiful Creature Comforts 2013 calendar in my kitchen tomorrow, a day ahead of the New Year, because I simply can’t wait any longer. So glad to have it. This is a wonderful post as always, and until the next one I wish you a very happy, healthy, creative, loving, and joyous new year.
    With love always,
    Wendy

    • Thank you Wendy; I hope you enjoy each page on the calendar and be able to look back this time next year and see what a great twelve months you had in 2013. Happy New Year!
      love Sarah

  2. Sarah, thank you for sharing so generously your news, drawings (I loved the latest one, hanging around Ascot bus station- when did you do that? from memory?), designs (including source material), thoughts, free associations, funny and sad stories. All a reminder of the sheer joy of looking, listening, and connecting (only!) your blogs have been inspirational. Don’t stop (as if you could). Have a wonderful year. Much love. Faye

  3. Lovely lovely lovely.
    Am smiling away thinking of u and the travellers sandwiched in a cab telling stories!!
    Much love and happy chrimble to you and family and friends world wide. Xx

  4. Just lovely, the only e mail worth opening in the Christmas break. Beautiful colour, vibrant, and such fine intimate writing. I look forward to meeting up in 2013

  5. Dear Sarah, Happy Christmas. And many thanks for bringing so many smiles to my year with the words and pictures in your blog. I look forward to next year’s postings.
    Love, Frances.

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