the haystack needle

Early afternoon the day of the storm, a man materialised on a link from the south of England to Jane Hill, BBC wonderful, and told how, with the schools closed because of the weather, he and his colleagues had “placed” several hundred school meals via social media and local contact groups. “We didn’t waste a fish finger” he said beaming.

It’s been a week of events – a friend brought me a wonderfully carved wooden spoon, my son visited with his little girl, the telephone and the screen went down for 36 hours, the repair followed by the worst artificial voice message I have ever heard, and I lost a gold pin.

For my 50th birthday my then husband gave me two diamonds in a plastic box from Schipol Airport.  I took them to the only place I then knew to have them made into something, and while there fell in love with a plain gold pin – a bar with a curl and a clip.  I bought it.  It has been endlessly useful,  currently stitched carefully inside the pocket of the  lacquer red coat I use to get the paper – it fastens the flap across the chest and throat. 

Last night brought sleep for the first night in several, thanks to hot bath, hot milk, half a Nytol.     I got up and went off for the paper, corduroys, sweater, red coat and scarf round head. The wind may not be Eunice but it is still blowing. 

I bought four oranges for £1 (juice) and the Sunday Times.  I met Maggie who identifies me by once having discussed a post nasal drip with her.  I don’t see her often but the last two conversations over some months have begun “ You know that post nasal drip of yours … ?” in a big South London voice.  Last time was on a bus from behind a mask.  Barry Cryer lives, I thought.  Short exchange, she’s a happychondriac, can’t wait to discuss her health. My post nasal drip is merely the entry point.

  And I took the scarf off and let the wind blow.  Arrived home, came in and took the oranges out of the bag, went to take my coat off – no pin.

I checked my pockets, the floor, the table, outside the door – put my coat back on and went back to the shop where Sunday shift involves two men who can ring all sorts of bets and procedures on the till and other machines but don’t speak English.  “Pin” is beyond them.  I walked carefully home.  I saw a magpie and just as I was about to tell him/her to scat, there was a second.  I thought “two for joy” was a bit mean. 

Mid-forest meadow and two magpies (Pica pica) sitting side by side on a tree trunk lying in the grass. Beautiful afternoon, warm light. October. Autumn in Poland. Horizontal view.

  I came home, checked at home again. 

It was a light thing, it would be blown, and the street was full of lots of dead leaves and the detritus people can’t be bothered to wrap or dispose of properly, loads of it blowing about, and the daily discard.  But I remembered where I met Maggie, and after her, a frilly woman with a frilly dog.  That’s where I took the scarf off … go back and check.

Second outing : this is silly, even with your glasses on. A little thing like that in the street, in a wind.  Retraced steps, searching,  and turned to come back.  It’s gone.  Damn.  There will be a reason, even I don’t understand it.  Looking carefully.  And there it was

Crown of tall trees in the form of a heart. Love for the world, ecology. Environmental conservation concept.

under a sapling halfway down my street.  I  looked up and the magpies did a lap of honour.  I thanked them and God and picked it up and came home.

If it’s so important to you, I hear you say, why don’t you put it in a safe place, for best ?  My mother taught me best for everyday, better be, otherwise not much point.  I like to use things.   I remember shying away from confessing to Wal the breakage of some early gift.  Wal, who cherishes his possessions fiercely, said “These things happen, it’s a thing.  It is meant to be used.”    And I am usually careful. So, hooray for “we didn’t waste a fish finger ” and my haystack needle.   Little things may please little minds but small joys matter when big things start to slip.

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