CIGAR BOXES ARE elegant and prettily made small objects, more common once than they are now. They are made of thin slices of wood, and their labels may show a certain rose and gilt baroque splendour. They have a delicious scent that has nothing to do with cigarettes and the smoking thereof. When one day I found a cigar box tucked in the bookcase, I thought it was just the thing to keep small treasures in. When I looked in it, I discovered that someone else had had the same thought: it was already full of small treasures.
They are my mother’s, and together they are the bones, incomplete and disordered, of a narrative. As though a skeleton has been disturbed by small or large predators, and bits scattered or even stolen. They need to be recomposed. A lot of them are small clippings from newspapers, thin and frail now, but still clear. From the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners‘ Advocate, as it was then, a distinguished broadsheet that the locals read like a novel of their daily doings; or the evening tabloid Sun, which seemed to be mostly racing and sport, and was read by people on the bus after work.
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