It all began with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”. In the school of wizardry, Hogwarts, the Room of Requirement is a magic room, which only appears when someone has real need of it, and in it can be found the thing that is most needed. I have something very similar in my house. The Cupboard of Requirement is a magic cupboard, apparently, which always contains the thing I most need.
It made its first appearance last year on the day of Corpus Christi (60- Let’s Prop Jesus on a Ladder). The women of my street needed another crocheted tablecloth-type thing and were beginning to get flustered. I knew that one had been left in my house by the previous owners but I had no idea where. Then I remembered that strange old traditional Spanish cupboard, with curtains shading the (presumably) precious belongings, and two drawers below. Yes! There was a carefully-folded crocheted tablecloth-type thing, just perfect for stringing across the street to shade Jesus’ portrait. I had never wanted it before, nor since. It probably isn’t there … it only existed that day, because it was needed.
The Cupboard of Requirement contains a glass for every necessary drink (and a good few unnecessary ones too). There is an old fax machine which may or may not work, and an assortment of cables. There are two eggcups and a cocktail stirrer that hangs on its own stand. There is an assortment of tissue paper, and an enormous quantity of china plates. A cute little rack of four teeny-weeny coffee cups. And a golf trophy that once held a biro (now missing). One day each of these things will be exactly what is needed. Added to the treasure are one or two items of my own that had no logical home elsewhere. A big plate from the Waterside Inn at Bray, and Mum’s tiny sewing kit in her battered old wooden cigarette box. Not used often, barely remembered, but one day they will find a use, and then perhaps a different shelf in another room.
So the cupboard got its name after it successfully produced what was needed for Corpus Christi. Meanwhile upstairs in the guest bedroom a drawer was slowly accumulating odd things that guests had left behind. Liquid things, mostly, that were bought here and couldn’t be taken back until airport security finally develops a system to differentiate between potentially dangerous liquids, and shampoo or suncream. And sharp things, that can’t be taken in cabin luggage.
The Drawer of Abandonment has almost as many goodies as the Cupboard of Requirement. A variety of suncreams, not surprisingly. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, perfume, various skin creams and shampoos, a couple of adaptor plugs, several pairs of nail scissors and tweezers. Smuggled in, some of them, but too risky to smuggle back out.
Below the wardrobe are a pair of Gordon’s trainers and a pair of Paul’s sandals, abandoned for anyone to use. A few pairs of soft spa slippers for guests unused to tiled floors.
It’s the things that people like to have around them, yet in the end they can’t take them away with them. It’s all in there, yet every visitor brings more, and leaves yet more behind. In the end, everything we have goes into the Drawer of Abandonment.
© Tamara Essex 2014
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT:
My neighbour has an enormous family. Her sons and daughters and their wives and husbands and countless children fill our tiny street at fiesta times, impossible to tell them all apart. But many are useful – Manolo and Antonio are excellent plumbers and electricians, and Lorenzo is a very skilled builder. So when a friend was seeking an architect, it occurred to me that there might be one in Rafaella’s brood. I stopped her husband outside yesterday and asked him if amongst his many children he had an architect. “No” he replied. “Mi hijo es perrito” … at least that’s what I thought he said. Bit rude, I thought, to say his son is a little dog. He repeated it several times. I thanked him, confirmed that definitely none of his children were architects, and wandered off. Checking in the dictionary later it turns out he was saying “Mi hijo es perito” with just the one r (not rolled so much as the double r) which is a useful word for an expert, a loss-adjuster, an expert witness, or a skilled person. But not for an architect, which not surprisingly is “arquitecto”.