Sunday 1 March 2009

Through leaves

In 1950, Vita Sackville-West identified in a broadcast on the BBC, a number of unremarkable but essential pleasures. 
These brief moments were termed in the family shorthand, 
“through leaves”, 
after the small but intense pleasure of kicking through dry leaves.

It was “through leaves” to run a stick along an iron railing
 or crunch thin ice; 
to suddenly remember a word or name you thought you’d forgotten;
 to write with the perfect pen; 
pulling curtains that run freely on their rods; 
sliding out a drawer which opened readily and silkily on ball bearings, 
cutting pages of a book with a sharp paper cutter; 
drawing a cork with a good corkscrew; 
drinking when you're thirsty; 
feeling of sand between your toes at the beach; 
and reading in bed. 
Others include; sinking into bouncy seats at the movies; 
waking up to find it has snowed overnight; 
shopping in an outdoor market; 
putting on a freshly ironed shirt 
or suddenly catching sight of the sea.

I find it pleasing that nearly 60 years later, 
I can still identify with so many of these things.

Perhaps sticks and railings are harder to come by 
and we hardly ever have to wield a paper cutter 
before we can read a new book, 
but nothing else is unfamiliar to me.

Remembering the word ‘choisya’ yesterday was a huge relief 
and so was ‘altruistic’ and ‘impulsive’. 
I’ll forget them again no doubt, 
but then have the fun of remembering them all over again.

I used to love a Rotring pen, 
but these days a Pilot V5 Hi-tecpoint is just right.

Curtains run more freely if you spray the rail with WD40. 
I did that after the rail came down 
and had to be replaced in our bedroom.

Corks are often screwtops or plastic which is a crying shame.
 We don’t buy bottled water but I used to like Hildon Still. 
The bottle was an elegant shape with a plainish blue label.

Camber Sands has the best fine sand near to hand
and dunes and board walks. 
It is often used as a location substitute for New England.

Reading in bed is good but brief in duration. 
I’m reading a Persephone book (for a change) 
called the Fortnight in September by RC Sherriff.

There were very bouncy seats at the Haymarket Cineworld 
when we went to see Benjamin Button 
but the experience was marred by the nacho chomping, 
texting, talking couple next to me. 
More ‘nails down blackboard’ than ‘through leaves’. 
But let’s not go there.

It did snow overnight 
and it was the best thing that happened all winter. 
And there were icy puddles to crunch.

Borough Market is great but you need to get there early 
otherwise it’s just a scrum. 
 Good markets in Italy were hard to find, too much tat. 
But I have high hopes of finding a nice one this summer in Provence.

I’m not a great shirt wearer, 
in fact there’s one waiting to go back to M&S because 
although it was a lovely Chambray blue 
it makes me look like a police officer, 
and I’m not a great ironer of shirts. 
Sheets though, I’m very good at.

I’m thrilled every time by the sudden sight of the sea 
in the vee at Hope Gap. 
All the more because  a flowery, grassy path that leads down to it 
in a cleft between two steep Downland slopes.

She invited listeners to come up with their own list of pleasures 
to add to those she had overlooked or forgotten.

My list is forming, but that’s enough to be going on with.
What's on yours?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this is just my kind of thing! I'll copy this to read again and think about what is 'through leaves' for me. I like your list, and I think I'd like to keep a journal where I can make a lifetime list of the unremarkable things that mean something to me.