A neighbour once admired my ‘collection’ of wooden boxes.   I thought, I don’t have a ‘collection’.    Collections are useless gatherings of unnecessary stuff that take up room and need dusting.

I once visited a house whose fairly large sitting room was shelved from floor to ceiling and filled
with hundreds of ceramic ladies.   I thought it was the stuff of nightmares.

So, I’m not a collector.    I just like boxes, and over the years I seem to have acquired a few.   How many?   One or two, I haven’t counted…

The first one I was given, I no longer possess.   (Possibly one of my children or grandchildren now has it.)
A girl I never particularly liked, but who had a knack for present giving, gave me a carved softwood Indian box with red lining.   I was always torn between love of the box, and memories of her.    I suppose she was
a nice enough girl but she was excessively organised and tidy.   Every theatre programme she had ever had was stored in date order in an attractive box tied with red ribbon.     She had a truly overwhelming desire to be married, and her wedding was planned down to the details of the flowers on the table, only no prospective husband had as yet turned up.    All her energies were devoted to this aim, and I think what she actually wanted of me was someone to share the hunt.      I on the other hand did not want to be
the pursuer but the pursued.        I found the whole state of affairs rather alarming, and felt sorry for the husband who would one day blunder into this trap.   I do not know what became of her, but I imagine she did find a husband – she had natural blonde hair, good legs, and was prepared to please – in the short term anyway.   I loved the box, but I suspect it is because of my recollection of her that I no longer own it.

Among the boxes (not that many…) that seem to have found a place in this house, are two that I love, of
dark wood painted with roses, which judging from their shape I imagine were  meant to hold a lady’s handkerchiefs and gloves, and these were given me by  John’s Aunt.    She also gave me a very
small wooden box with a ceramic rose plaque on it.   I have a box whose lid is made from the rare
Huron pine from Tasmania, which was almost brought to extinction because it  made such fine ships.    I have a  marquetry box I think from Morocco given me by Elisabeth, and a white painted  and inlaid with shell box from Africa given me by (Rory or Elisabeth.)    By my chair is a heavy metal engraved box
brought from India by Rory and Sarah which I keep filled with little cards to  entertain my grandchildren.    I have a  black enamel box from Kyoto with storks on it.    Recently arrived is a cylindrical box of
cherry bark from Kiroshiki, which I had  sadly decided was too expensive but John bought me anyway.    Some of ‘our’ boxes are used by John – I  suppose he imagines he owns them!    There is a marquetry one, showing Fuji that we bought in Hakone.    There is one with metal within its design  which I won in a raffle.   I had already  won a fridge in that raffle, and I am afraid when I saw the second prize was a
box, I did not return it to be redistributed as I might otherwise have done.   We also have two round wooden boxes for  cuff-links or similar items, 5 of which we bought under a bridge in Melbourne,  and the other three of which are owned by Rory, Lawrence, and Elisabeth’s ex  boyfriend.   When she and he parted, I
did regret the box!    I also have larger  Japanese wooden boxes which were used to store ceramics (now there’s another  love, but that’s a different story…)    These boxes have Japanese writing on them, which I presume says the name  of the shop, but I don’t know that.

My children share my  enthusiasm, and when Elisabeth was quite a small girl, I lent her £42 – a huge
investment for her – and she bought 7 carved dark wooden boxes from India,  which are now in Japan housing her jewellery, and in the company of her growing  collection of boxes and jewellery.

I don’t really know why I like  boxes so much.    Someone once told me it  was because they shut, and were, like me, full of secrets.   (I don’t know what she meant;  I am sunny and transparent, an open book, as
you all know.)

I like keeping ‘stuff’ in  the boxes.   I like the feel and the  shape and the smell of them.   I like the
skill that has gone into the making.    I  like to remember the tree that it came from and the country of its origin.    I just like boxes.

No, I’m not a  collector.   They just come, somehow.