I visited the Museum with a grown-up son. Perhaps that was why the exhibits kept pushing the thought of the bright young men in the years just before WWI into my mind – just out of childhood – just about to die. That poignant sense of looking back and knowing what was coming, when they didn’t. The feeling flavoured the whole place for me, on that visit. As if childhood were the only good time, and though the children didn’t know it, what came after was going to be so much less. So much loss.
Which isn’t my sense of childhood, generally, at all.
And at the same time, my particular objects evoked something different. A copper warming pan – a teddy bear pyjama case – a hot water bottle in its knitted cover – they spoke to me of physical comforting. Feeling tangibly cared for. The imagination, stroked, purring with the warmth of love. And when I looked at them, they didn’t seem to come with a sell-by date.
Isn’t that strange. Both reactions so different. Both so true.
By Joan Lennon