|Shell, front view|
|Shell, seen from above, showing the dragon|
Here's yet another of my mother's old ornaments. There are two of them, as a matter of fact. My Grandmother Price bought one for her daughter, and one for her daughter-in-law, my mother.
My mother liked 'the shells' much more than my aunt. When my aunt grew tired of her shell, she gave it to my mother.
They are 'Woolworth's Specials', made of plastic. I loved them. I loved peering in at the little house, with its water-wheel, and the rather blobby person who is watching the boat sail by. I liked to speculate on what would happen when the shell closed.
You might just be able to see that, in the second shell, there is a rather blobby animal, which might be a cow or a donkey, or even a large dog, instead of a blobby person. I cared nothing for the blobbiness. Instead, I was entranced by the fact the blob had a little bridge to enable it to cross the little river.
Here is something else I was much given to pondering as a child -
There was always a bottle of this around in my childhood. For those who don't know, it held a sticky brown fluid. You put a teaspoonful in a cup, and added hot water, to make alleged coffee - the only kind of coffee I ever tasted, until my aunt (who had been led away from the true faith of tea-drinking by her Polish husband, and was a hardened coffee-addict) introduced me to the real stuff.
But the label - you will see that, on the tray in the picture is a bottle of camp coffee. And on that bottle of camp coffee there must be a label showing exactly the same scene as on the real bottle. And on that bottle must be another, even tinier label - and on that bottle - and so on, down into infinity.
(I once told my partner about this, and he said that years before, on leave in Scotland, he'd gone along to a party given by some people his sister knew. There was an old man sitting in a chair by the fire, and that old man was the man who'd modeled for the Scotsman on the bottle of Camp Coffee. I think he owned the company who made the stuff. All Scots, I tell you, sooner or later meet all other Scots.)
But, back to infinity on a label. I spent many hours, as a child, pummelling my brain as I tried to imagine just how small those pictures within pictures within pictures within pictures became.
Many years later, I came across Flann O'Brien's entirely mad 'The Third Policeman,' which features, among many mad things, a policeman (though not the third one), who halts an attack of one-legged men by painting his bicycle in a colour no one had ever seen before, and riding it past them. They are so disconcerted by the sight of an unknown colour that their campaign collapses.
I nearly did my brain an injury trying to imagine a colour no one had ever seen before. The best I could come up with was a kind of muddy purple - which really wouldn't do at all. Everybody has seen muddy purples. - But it highlights the difficulty of getting outside your usual frame of reference. Is it ever really possible?
Answers - if you have them - and unknown colours - by first class snipe, please.