• Charli

Blanket Box

During a recent period of decluttering I put some household items on the North Berwick Facebook page: a dog bed, a wicker log/laundry basket and a ‘vintage’ blanket box circa 1950.

Keen to see these items, two of which were coveted, settled in their new homes, I advertised them at a realistic price: £10 each. The dog bed had barely been used by Jilly as she prefers a rug on the back of a chair or her sheepskin which I bought in Applecross last summer after L and M’s wedding.

The log basket was originally a laundry basket and was one of those ‘items of delight’ that had encouraged me to part with my purse many years ago and when I lived in a suitably proportioned Victorian flat, but which became a source of clutterable frustration in my current 1950s flat. The blanket box I’ll come back to later.

The dog bed went within minutes of being posted and the log basket not much longer after that. The dog bed was collected by the friend of a self confessed dog lover who was in need of additional comfort for her pets. The log basket I offered to drop off and went to its perfect home: a converted cottage snuggled in a small dell not far from North Berwick. The new owner opened the door of her bustling kitchen to the sound of dogs and children and with the smell of firewood drifting from the chimney. ‘This already has a home’ she remarked.

Now the blanket box is an item of furniture that has been in our family for a great many years and was resident in Emma’s bedroom when we lived in Garelochhead. I cannot remember its original colour but she painted it a bright sunshine yellow and stored records, tapes and books inside while her ‘Hi Fi’ system sat proudly on top. This was our preferred spot, sitting beside it other carpet deliriously waste hours singing to music, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

When Emma moved into Glasgow, then Edinburgh then Leith the blanket box went with her. Fast forward several years when we lost Emma to bastard breast cancer, T asked to be the new custodian and proudly took the blanket box to her student flat and back to Glasgow. T painted it white and blue. Smart. When T graduated blanket box came to me for storage and soon became useful. However, keen as I was to change the look of my entrance area the blanket box had to go. T no longer wanted it and so I put it up for sale. Having been messed about by one potential seller I dropped the price and was immediately contacted.

We made our arrangement for the meeting at 6pm. I was in the throes of clearing up after Jilly’s very upset tummy using a Vax carpet cleaner when the doorbell went. Being deaf in my left ear and having chosen to remove my irritating hearing aid, I was grateful that Jilly barked to alert me. I opened the door and a very small child with blond curly hair, raincoat, welly boots and determined look on their face proceeded to walk past me. His mum reminded him, ’We don’t do that M, remember? We don’t just walk into people’s houses.’ She looked at me apologetically, ‘He’s autistic. Sorry’. I smiled and reassured her that I work with young people with autism and that it was no problem at all, however the blanket box was outside in the Summer House. We went outside, and as the security lights came on, M’s mum spied the box and thrust £5 into my hand. Her face beamed and she said to M, ‘Say thank you’. I bent down, aware that M might not manage this with a stranger and using the Signalong sign for Hello said, ‘Hello. My name is Charli and I am delighted to meet you’. M’s face broke into a wide grin, recognising someone who ‘spoke autism’.

Mum was insistent that she could manage to carry the blanket box, approx measurements 3ft x 2ft x 1ft, because she declared she was strong. At this point M was pointing into my Summer house having spied the pine cones I’d sprayed white for Christmas. Before Mum could finish reminding him that he couldn’t have everything that he saw, I cut her off and said that the texture would be good for him and offered to walk him to their van while she carried the box.

Our dialogue went like this:

M: You are going with us.

Me: I am walking you to your van so that Mummy can carry your new box.

M: You are coming with us.

Me: I am coming with you to your van.

M: You are coming with us.

Me: Yes I am coming to your van. I am the adult who is going to keep you safe and help you cross the road.

M: You are coming with us.

Me: Yes I am coming to your van and here we are.

I felt such a surge of relief that I knew exactly what M was trying to convey and that he needed reassurance not lengthy explanations.

I hugged M’ s mum and thanked her for taking Emma’s blanket box to its new home, which was undoubtedly the best place it could be going.

Later that evening I had to call Scottish Water having been pestered by my neighbour to enquire about the communal drains and I wanted to put the matter to rest. I spoke with a charming customer service advisor who couldn’t have been more helpful and understanding about the predicament: my neighbour was relentlessly calling Scottish Water for a problem that was resolved. I was listened to with care and respect and reassured that she would share my concerns with her manager. I thanked her effusively and asked her what her name was.

“Emma” she replied. Perfect, I thought.

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