Out of sight

Blog post
Published: 16.02.2010

A thousand metres up, in high summer, we drift in mist. We’ve not seen the sun for days. Not squinted against its brightness. Not stretched, like Matilda, luxuriating in its warmth. But we know (we trust) that it is still there, behind the veil of cloud. And Matilda knows, too (cats know things) She prowls around the house. Demands to go out. Sneezes away the damp from her whiskers. Crinkles the velvet between her ears (cats frown) Yowls and miaows. Stamps her paws (teenager? Puss in Boots?). Perhaps she has forgotten the misty months of winter (cats have selective memories) 


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In summer, jewels collude with warm skin in sensuous array. Enhanced by sunlight, they also flirt in sharp-edged shadows. In winter the light is more moderate, jewels less outspoken, their rendering more modest; or they may be concealed, partly or entirely, under clothing. Rings hide beneath gloves when a snug fit prevents more ostentatious display. Those who feel their rings under their gloves are confident of their presence, can feel their body heat transferred to the metal.

A neckpiece, hidden by a scarf, still exists; so does a brooch worn under a coat. Such discreet, even recondite, wearing of a jewel betokens quiet confidence in its continuing existence. Out of sight is not out of mind. Even a ring removed from a finger retains a presence there. Can be felt, like a phantom limb. And the neck feels the impression of an absent neckpiece. (Comforter? Garotte? A brooch-pin pierces more than clothing.)

A jewel, like a branding iron, sears the psyche as it presses against flesh.
Ritual rings which signify and celebrate troth or contract are notorious for this.

Although people purchase jewellery to wear themselves, jewels are surely at their most potent when they are presented as gifts. Through the act of giving, giver lays claim to receiver. The gift signifies this to both parties, and to others. However blatant or discreet the intention or the jewel may be, the gift is a declaration, an announcement. It is also an aide-memoir. An inherited jewel binds the current owner or wearer to the previous one. When I wear the bracelet that my father made for my mother’s birthday fifty years ago, I am doubly bound: to her and to him. As I clasp it around my arm, I become her. I observe his love beaten into the metal. I need assistance to remove it. He always removed it for her.

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Now the sun has reappeared, vindicating our trust. Warming skin and soothing psyche. We stretch out to it. We squint.
Matilda basks in its warmth.