I’ve always wondered about that saying: “Life’s rich tapestry.”
Who started that one off, then? The allusion to life as a tidy set of parallel threads neatly arranged in warp and weft, intricately ordered, woven by the peaceful hands of womenfolk in towers and castles?
Doesn’t sound much like life to me.
I think someone must have looked at a tapestry, having never even wielded a needle. “Oooh, that looks rich, ” some clever local merchant would have thought to himself grandly over a goblet of something warming; “gorgeous colours, varied, sumptuous. Much,” he would reflect in a happy red-wine haze, “like life itself.”
And lo, the phrase would be inserted into one of those tedious after dinner speeches in eleven-something, to be jotted down by other officious lesser-noblemen. Life’s rich tapestry, oh, yes, what a witty metaphor, you should write a book, old boy.
I have had a day full of life today and it had none of the louche order of one of those lavish wall hangings. I would love to see a tapestry of today. It would be labelled Modern Art and put next to Tracey Emin’s unmade bed for people to tut at.
The cat is old and grey and full of sleep and has given notice that she will no longer be observing the niceties of going outside to perform her toilet. Thus the cat litter is strategically placed to prevent feline faux pas. I had had enough, yesterday evening. I swept up the tray and its contents and placed it in the garden where, for 20 years, the cat has been quite happy to vent.
Whereupon, all night, it rained torrentially into the litter tray.
The cat was unamused, and admonished us at 6:30am in the most effective manner possible, a strategy which required most of the contents of the cleaning cupboard to remedy.
My nephew, Big Al, arrived at 7:45am: could I decorate a box with him at his nursery? It would be full of things he loved to talk about.
Ingenious. But where was I to find half an hour to join him?
At 8am Maddie called. She had forgotten her lemonade bottle for art. She didn’t think her teacher would be very forgiving. Please would I drive it out to her school?
I was going to have to make some space in my morning. I picked the phone up and called my mother in law: I wouldn’t be able to make our regular appointment for coffee and chat – was that ok?
Alas, the carpet men were coming and a tall chest of drawers must be moved out of their way.
I said: I’ll call in on the way to the nursery. I picked up my skirts and flew out of the door, slamming my finger soundly in its locking system.
I am not a patient woman.
I shouted at the top of my voice with the lungs of a professional singer and musician. It was fortunate my nephew was already strapped into the car and out of hearing. Any incidental neighbours stared fixedly at the floor.
Pointlessly, in petulant retribution, I kicked the door. Big-toe-first.
And found, as well as the toe being a very strange colour, that I was unable to walk on it.
Each of the fine threads of the morning had converged and become an almighty unteasable knot. But there were gold threads to this piece of crazy textile extemporisation.
The Chatterbox was a triumph. Al made bold design decisions, covering the box in an inspired sweetie covered wrapping paper and adding smiley faces and glitter-cars for that bespoke effect.
I arrived at Maddie’s school with some excuse framed for why I had couriered a plastic bottle ten miles.
The receptionist was wearing a broad grin. She stopped me. And she gestured to a neat row of identical bottles, each one dropped off by some parent who just couldn’t quite let her child worry.
At dinner Al put his head on one side and looked at an imaginary thought bubble which- though clearly not there – hovered above him with discernible content.
“What am I dreaming?” he asked, looking up at the space. Perhaps I might look at the bubble and tell him?
If life is a tapestry it’s a strange and symbolic thing, a Klimt without the discernible forms, a work with all the passion of a Picasso, and tactile like the small cuddly owl in Al’s chatterbox.
If they ever invent time travel, I shall find the person who first said “Life’s Rich Tapestry”. I shall show him a day in my life, and give him everything he needs and lock him in a room, like the maid who sewed straw into gold in Rumpelstiltskin.
My last words before I clang the door shut will be: “Go on then, Silvertongue. Sew That.”
Photo is Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow Tapestry: info here