Today, the topic of conversation is treasured possessions. In particular, possessions that you treasure so much that you would risk your life retrieving them if your house was burning down.
Inspired by The Burning House, I spent quite a while thinking about this and came to the conclusion that there are really very few things that make my list. Gone are the days when I would have had to clear out the cupboards to save all the family photo albums and the memories that they hold because, firstly, I don’t have a huge number of printed photos from my childhood in England (they’re hoarded in Lithuania), and secondly, who still has photo albums?! Okay okay, there will of course be people out there who still print out every photo they take, but many many of us don’t. My closest substitute for the traditional photo album is a huge floor-to-ceiling board full of photos at university. The photos change every year, and are easily replaceable because they’re archived on my laptop (and backed up doubly, triply).
Which brings me nicely to the point of technology, and just how much it dominates the list of things that I would pick up on the way out of my hypothetical burning house. When did I lose the sentiment, the emotion, and the hope that my grandchildren might one day inherit something that has a story; a history? At this rate, the only history that my future grandchildren will inherit is my internet browsing history. So far, so tragic.
But think a little longer and I’m sure you’ll come to the the same clichéd conclusion that I came to – all that matters is the health and happiness of your friends and family (one’s own health and happiness apparently comes close to the top too). Diamond rings, antique bureaus, couture gowns and first edition classic novels are only treasured because there’s a story, memory or anecdote attached. Foster Huntington, the creator of The Burning House, says quite rightly that “a father of five in his forties would grab very different things than he would have as a bachelor in his twenties”. Aged twenty, I have many years to attach stories to inanimate objects (and to earn the money to be able to afford them) but, for now, my iPad is my friend.
Enough of the chatter. Here’s my selection:
[take 1 – the dog was feeling left out of the action]
- Camera (in my hands)
- Chargers for the above (not pictured)
- Portable hard drive
- Favourite watch – the only slightly sentimental object – a gift from my parents for my 18th birthday
- 3 x Ray-Bans – one pair to see, one pair of Wayfarers, and a knackered but loved 50th anniversary gold-plated limited edition from ’87 that used to be my stepfather’s
- Jumper for warmth (and to coordinate with the blaze…….I kid)
- Reading material to take my mind off the burning house (yeah, right). Wallpaper* and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin were to hand.
- This month’s Moleskine diary, where I jot down post ideas, places to visit and, generally, things that I read or hear about that seem worth a Google search.
So what would you save? Have a good browse on The Burning House, make a list, and remember that all that really matters is that you and your family get out to safety. Your photos? That’s what your memory is for. And the Cloud. Nothing gets lost in the Cloud.