Yesterday I had a brief Twitter conversation with a couple of friends about how one person might find a particular sound sinister and unsettling whilst another might find it soothing and reassuring. This resonates with the images and memories that a certain sound, possibly heard many years ago, might evoke.
The sound in question was the tinkling of wind chimes. For some it is eerie and reminiscent of horror and suspense movies. I blame John Carpenter for this. Other people find any regular sound that they are not in control of disturbing. I love the sound as it holds warm and happy memories for me. Our family had a set of Japanese glass wind chimes which were too delicate to be used every day so they were carefully packed away and brought out every Christmas along with the more traditional ornaments. I remember being allowed to gently pull the string and listen to the soft tinkling sound the chimes made as they touched each other. Inevitably, even with this careful use, one by one the chimes broke until it was no longer repairable.
My sister and I often spoke nostalgically of these chimes. None of the modern ones sounded or looked 'right' to us. One day, however I struck Ebay gold...
Two very unprepossessing cardboard boxes arrived in the post.
The packaging gives a clue to the vintage of their contents. We think they must date from the 1950's or early 1960's.
Inside, instead of today's ubiquitous bubble wrap is a nest of the finest wood shavings to protect the delicate contents.
Slowly and gently, the chimes start to emerge from the tangled strands and the wind chime starts to take shape.
The glass chimes are all hand painted in very simple, but obviously Japanese strokes of colour. Some are long and thin and made of clear glass.
Others are diamond shaped. They are joined to the frame by the most flimsy of red strings, secured to the glass by small circles of gold paper.
Whilst the painting style is consistent, the shards of glass are cut from a range of clear and textured glasses making me wonder whether these were the offcuts from domestic glazing re purposed into something beautiful.
The whole thing is suspended from a network of red strings attached to two fine circles of tin, all knotted at the top to secure them with a small grey tag hanging down which can be gently pulled to hear the chimes.
It was so lucky that I was able to find two of these so I gave the other to my sister as a way of evoking happy memories of gathering together at Christmas as a family. As I write this I listen to the news and can't help but think about those people who set off on journeys and will now never return home and also of those whose homes are no longer safe places.
While I prepare for Fibre East I am reminded that no matter how busy I am I will make time to visit the P-Hop stand. Never has the work of Doctors Without Borders been more important.