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Things and stories

That old clock at my mother’s house sits up there on the kitchen wall, between the cupboard and the stair-rise. Its quiet yet insistent twice-a-second tick – one-a-two-a-three-a-four-a – is oddly calming even on a busy day. It’s been in the family for many generations now, ever since it was made. I’d always thought it was a station-clock, but I’m told it goes a long way further back than that – another half-century or more before any train even existed, back to the days when the story-bank was grandmother, telling the children her stories beside the flickering firelight, to the rhythm of the quiet ticking of the clock.

Whilst writing this, a documentary is running on TV in the background, about the Staffordshire Hoard, a huge crumpled collection of Anglo-Saxon ‘warrior bling’ dug up a few years back from a muddy field in middle England. “And then”, says the presenter, “there’s this” – and in white-gloved hands he holds up a palm-sized triangular knob of gold, embedded with blood-red garnets in a beautifully-figured ground:

This hung at the side of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, who must have habitually rested his left hand on his sword. Look at the polish on the top of that, where the man’s hand was resting on his most treasured possession, the hilt of his sword. This all meant something to someone, it’s not art for art’s sake, there are stories and things in it.

So too with the clock. I’ve wound it many times now, once a week, twenty-eight half-turns of its small brass key; yet it’s seen at least ten thousand weeks pass by, in different kitchens, different households, different times. How many stories has it known? How many stories have been told about it, or in which it has figured? I know that one family-member covets it, treasures its future possession with an almost desperate longing – yet would probably sell it on after a year or two, even though its real value is more in the stories it holds. Sad.

What are those ‘things’ that matter to you, to your family, your community, your business?

What is it that can make even an everyday object seem so precious to us?

What is it that we each value in those things, and why?

“This all meant something to someone, there are stories in it” – what, for you, are the meanings and stories that are connected with each of those objects?

And in what ways do those stories, and the objects themselves, help to connect people together, or to pull them apart?

Use Zahmoo to help you capture those stories, and the stories-within-stories – and keep their richness and meaning for your own future generations.

February 2nd, 2012 by Zahmoo
Filed in: For Business, For Community, For Family
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Zahmoo is a story bank for collecting and sharing your family and business stories.