I’ve posted a few pics of this ever-changing window display, with its curious mix of new and old objects. I took this one for the overall effect - the near-abstract arrangement of forms divorced from use or context, the play of interior and reflected light - as usual.
But those little tea-chests, stencilled with the name of a local tea importer, also packed a nostalgia punch. My mum, like my grandmother, had leaf tea delivered to the door in five-pound chests like these. Each one came with a free linen tea-towel, usually the kind with bright woven-in chequered borders accentuating their whiteness.
From my mother, my aunt and my grandma, I have inherited a dozen of these tea-towels, some of them unused until now, some with fading borders and the odd obstinate stain. They still dry way better than any other kind, and every time I use one I recall the Wilcocks Tea van beetling down our driveway, and the delivery chap bounding up the back stairs with the familiar box. None of the chests themselves survived, though I can recall Dad keeping tools and the like in a couple of them. Can’t help imagining the cool shelving I could have improvised if I had the chests corresponding to those dozen tea-towels.