Have you seen my collection of disgruntled cats?
One of the neighbours got new windows yesterday. A locust swarm of men from Worle Joinery descended on the house (with scaffolding, the show offs) and apparently got all the windows replaced yesterday. Now, with new windows and possibly an internal rearrange, I can look out the window next to my desk and see what I call ‘The Howling Caribou’. It’s some horribly tacky elk sculpture that was probably purchased on a family holiday to Canada or Maine. The people probably didn’t actually see anything even remotely in the deer family, though they might have had venison one night, but felt this was an appropriate item of memorabilia to cart across the Atlantic Ocean and into their upstairs window.
This particular piece of hideousness is similar to this, only slightly less classy:
I can see from here that it’s painted, almost certainly coming with a sticker on the base saying ‘Hand Painted’ that was thrown away with the box full of protective tissue paper, bubble wrap, and one of those little dessicant silica gel sachets that you aren’t meant to eat, as we learned from Seinfeld. It is half the height of the window, and probably a third wide. This monster is not some tiny curio placed out of sight. It is something these people are proud of.
We have lots of random items that have been on display at various times. They range from our year of eBay gifts (buy each other the most tasteless and amazingly bad thing for under £5) to artwork. The artwork itself varies greatly, and some of the pieces can’t be hung just in case a parent drops by and we forget to take it down. (There’s also a commemorative Royal Wedding photo hung on our fridge for a similar reason. The image on the other side has been mildly defaced and always seemed to emerge from under the sofa at the exact wrong moment.) We also have a set of commemorative plates, drawn by Adam, that graced our walls for a while.
There are other bits of tacky statuary that have been purchased, either out of a great desire to have them or on a whim at an airport. Somewhere there’s a bronze statue of James Joyce, which was purchased for a few Euro and entirely out of pity.
At our wedding, Adam presented me with this cat, saying, ‘It looked so disgruntled, I had to buy it. I was almost late because of it, but look at it!’
As you can see, it is quite a perturbed cat. Of course, this (combined with the honestly not-rude-at-all question of ‘Do you like pussycats?’) started me on a bad path. By the time people got to the reception, I was being asked about my secret love of cat statues. One family member even arrived with another cat, this one happy!, so that it would even out the unhappiness of the first cat. I could see everyone making mental notes for Christmases and birthdays future, ‘Oh, Jen likes cat sculptures. I must remember this!’ In one joking addition to our collection of things that just aren’t entirely right but aren’t intended to be wrong (which does, I’ll admit, include several cats with various prey animals somehow attached), my husband condemned me to a life of tat.
Maybe this is the true level of adulthood. You know you’re a grown up when people stop buying you cool things and start buying you shitty ornaments because they remember vaguely that one time you had something similar and therefore you like all of this. It’s the same type of adulthood that landed my mother-in-law with a horribly tacky solar powered stained glass butterfly ornament and some decorative eggs that light up for no clear reason. It’s the same type of adulthood that employs the residents of great areas of China. It’s the same type of adulthood that keeps shops like Past Times going.
When we moved into this house, we decided to do a resort of decorative items. As it is, almost nothing is out or up. A few pieces of art have been hung out of convenience. The box with the mantlepiece items has gone back in the attic, though we might have to bring it down for a laugh. Maybe we’ll set up a phalanx of ceramic cats to scare The Howling Caribou back into hiding.