Sunday, 3 September 2006


In his famous Oxford Union address, the late Gerard Hoffnung, quoted from letters received in fractured English from Tyrolean landladies in reponse to enquiries about facilities for visitors.

"In the nearby village," was one response, "you can buy jolly memorials for when you pass away..."

We always refer to souvenirs as "jolly memorials" and, wherever you go in the world, it seems, there is never any shortage of them - even on a small island like Kalymnos...

Happily, you can often find items - such as these little fish painted on pieces of drift-wood washed up on the beaches of Telendos - that are hand-made and have a certain pleasant primitive charm that puts all the mass-produced tat in the shade.

The vibrant Grecian blue used by this local artist reminds me of the similarly rich Venetian blue and another of our jolly memorials...

This delightfully eccentric memento of one of our visits to Venice hangs on the wall of the loo at home: a glass-goldfish in a glass-drop of glass-water dripping from a glass-tap!

When it comes to glass-making, of course, the Venetians have only the one guiding principle: you can make anything whatsoever in glass, just so long as you don't ever think about tiresome irrelevancies --- such as functionality!


Scrooge said...

Another bathroom feature ! You must be running the toilet archive section on your computer down a bit by now...The thing is, having been in your loo, I don't remember ANY of these things.Perhaps this is because I am constantly overwhelmed by the books.I've been in branch libraries that hold less stock.Anyway, I find myself having to defend seaside tat, of which I once possessed a large amount. We're not talking anything as classy as the items featured in your regular bathroom fixtures weekly column, but just mass produced rubbish.Alas, it was condemned to extinction when I couldn't be bothered to dust it.Nonetheless, plastic boats and letter stands showing beach scenes with absurdly blue skies are as an essential a purchase on holiday as the worthy tomes we buy at the same time and then never read. Viva la seaside !

Brian Sibley said...

For the benefit of those who haven't visited the Sibley Memorial Library, I should like to make it clear that we have both a lavatory AND a bathroom.

I draw this to readers' attention simply so that they are aware that two items displayed in my recent 'Home Thoughts from Abroad' postings are, in fact, exhibited in two quite distinct locations of the Library building and not, as Mr Scrooge suggests, in one!

A fully illustrated guide-book is now available to all visitors and a complimentary updated version will shortly be sent to Mr Scrooge by the Mail Order Division of the Library Shop.

Scrooge said...

Well if you'd just said the item was exhibited in the second room or close to 'Biography' and just down the hall from 'Mechanical Engineering' I'd have understood. I have an A-Z of London but I didn't think I'd need to continue using it when inside your house.I think its vital you explain to your guests that they need the toilet or bathroom in your abode, a knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System is a must !

Diva of Deception said...

The guide book sounds an acceptable tome to those who are not encouraged to cross the threshold by virtue of the fact that there is 'no room, nowhere to sit'.

Obviously there's one seat - surrounded by a very acceptable library (I'm indebted to Mr Scrooge here for the information).