The last few weeks I have been regularly moved to tears by the toast-rack in one of the kitchen drawers.
It’s not the object itself, so much as the collection of concepts and memories that it has to drag around like tin cans behind a rented Rolls departing a country church. I suspect that if one could visualise (say) the kitchen contents in the same way one can right click on something in a reasonably good interface builder and view their properties, it would be a right mess of interlinked skeins of memory and meaning, and only need a wild-eyed bloke bellowing ‘Aliens!’ to be A Meme and thus exist as an Internet Entity.
A dog’s age ago, (ok, the seventies) we would beetle off to the Pembrokeshire coast for family holidays in an Holiday Cottage, which all seemed terribly modern back then. Mind, I thought Levi’s straight-leg jeans and BS1363 sockets were terribly modern, too. Among the modern miracles like stainless steel cutlery, single-colour carpets and electric cookers, the thing I remember most is the toast-rack. It was also stainless steel, which was Just Weird, since I’d thus far only encountered silver ones that had to be polished regularly.
While researching this piece (I don’t just throw these things together you know) I discover that it’s a generic catering equipment object, which makes perfect sense. If you go look up ‘toast rack’ on the wikipeejah, it’s that one.
So anyway. Holiday. We would sit around as a family (or at least that’s what I remember, at this point reality and/or facts can go and whistle for it) for breakfast and there would be toast and the seaside and the exciting smell of a house not your own.
When I first connected all these dots, I went to look on streetview to see if at least one of the places were still there. It’s most of the way up the hill out of Newgale as you drive towards Solva and St. Davids.
The other one was hard against the chainlink fence of RAF Brawdy. Little did I know about the actual purpose of that establishment. It’s kind of my own personal Quatermass episode.
The thing I wanted to do most of all that couple of weeks ago was book a week there so I could just go and quietly be. But of course that was right in the middle of a set of people having it Four Yorkshirepersons about the very notion of holidays: “I’ll think about maybe a weekend camping in the summer if the vaccination goes well..” -> “HOW DARE YOU THINK OF FUN AT A TIME LIKE THIS MY CHILDREN WILL NEVER LEAVE THIS HOUSE WHILE THERE IS BREATH IN MY BODY, ETC.”
Which, whatever. You win at middle-class penance.
If there’s a point to any of this, it’s that I’m very definitely grieving for a minor change of lifestyle or potential future where there would be a point in having a toast-rack. Because it’s the sort of thing that would come in handy were one to be able to sit around in the morning sunlight and idle over a second mug of tea while inspecting an OS map, rather than hoofing yr grub down with both thumbs before belting back upstairs to see to the next panic.