A strange turn of events- Christmas edition

12/29/2010 10:18:00 am

 I know there are more important things in life than material possessions. This, I know. However, there are those material objects that have such a strong associated symbolism, that they take on a life of their own. Let us begin.

Some background information before we get to the good stuff.

The Royal Doulton: The Royal Doulton (that's what it's called in our house) lives in a special cabinet. It comes out at Christmas and, occasionally, birthdays. But only like, important birthdays. It doesn't come out for those ones that fall after 21 and in between decades.

Each piece of the Royal Doulton lies snuggled and safe inside the cabinet, wrapped in its original packing. Each cup in a little bag. Each plate in a little bag with a piece of cardboard as padding.

In the early 90s when we moved, one piece was broken (the lid of the coffee pot). The pattern is out of print, so a broken piece, especially before the advent of the internet, meant a protracted search through specialised companies in the UK to find a replacement. Luckily, British people really like china.

Over many years, my mother added to the set and eventually had 10 full place settings and complete coffee and tea sets. The only thing missing was the gravy boat, but then the pattern, like I say, was discontinued, so that was the end of it.

The act: Not content with doing some really bastardy stuff when he left the family,  my father decided to flex one of his more vindictive muscles when the property settlement said that my mother would keep the furniture. The table had, after all, cost $8000.

He decided to take the Royal Doulton. Not because he actually liked it, or needed it, or wanted to use it. Because he could, and because he knew that my mother loved it.

The reason we know that he didn't really need it for a reason other than to be bitter (I mean, apart from the fact that he was moving into a fully furnished house, complete with an existing set of Royal Doulton and another woman), was that instead of taking all of it, he took half of it. Five dinner plates. Five side plates. Five soup bowls. And the coffee set.

There's not much you can do with half a dinner set.

Oh, and another thing: The first time my brother and I went over to my father's house after all of the above had happened, we were served dinner on the Royal Doulton. Well.. half of it. My mother's Royal Doulton. And I can tell you now, it definitely wasn't Christmas or a birthday.

The good stuff.

On Christmas day, we went over to Dad's house. After some initial confusion where their house guest thought that my brother's partner, my partner, and I were just friends of my brother along for the ride, we settled in for an awkward early morning glass of champagne. Classical music was blaring, and in an effort to make conversation less awkward, my father turned the volume down. Twice.

A few minutes later, his wife joined us, and returned the music to its original volume. We acted as though nothing had happened.

Some chit chat was made. My brother was told to sit on a different chair. The house guest thought I was a nurse. Really, it was just like any other day at dad's house.

My brother brought over our gift. Some thought had actually gone in to it, and we had even made an effort to make it look like there was stuff in it for her as well.

There were three wine boxes on the floor, half covered in wrapping paper. My father said, "Mike, there are two there for you, and Ellie, one is for you. But they have a lot of packing in them, so don't open them now." This was a bit cryptic. Said I, "oooh ok, so..are we allowed to open them when we get home?"

Said she, forcefully, "Don't they know what they're getting?"

With blank faces, my brother and I shook our heads.

My father, with a sort of forced joviality, "it's the Royal Doulton. Mike, your boxes have the coffee set. Ellie, you have the dinner set. [Gesturing at my brother] It's in lieu of a wedding present. Enjoy it."

My face dropped.

No card. No ribbon. Not even fully covered in wrapping paper.


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3 comments on this post

  1. Gobsmacked!

    1) how rude
    2) how fucking tight

    Are you going to give it back to your mum?

  2. The best part was then when she told you to use it, and not to 'keep it locked up in the cupboard'. After all she uses hers all the time...

  3. Wow. I mean... wow.


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