Capture in a teacup

Transported in time, age of innocence,

just six and dazzled by longing
for a set such as this.
Performing ceremonies with beloved dolls,
my confidantes. And you, tiny, exquisite
replicas of a fantasy world, with fantasy lives.
Hued by bone, and fingers corrupted
to fashion unconscionable deeds.

Your world is war, discomfort, dis-ease,
as is mine. Pour the tea, dear.

This is on view in the National Museum of Scotland, a miniature tea set consisting of teapot, sugar basin, two cups and a cream jug, made from painted fish bones by a German prisoner of war while convalescing in the North Hospital Block, Edinburgh Castle, during World War I.  It immediately linked me to the man , incarcerated because of a World War,  having to occupy his time somehow.  Perhaps he had a daughter, or a niece who he could contemplate , as he worked away at this little treasure. How removed from my own safe, secure upbringing during the 1960’s,  echoes of the Second World War permeating my childhood, and the adult misgivings of fear and anxiety as Cuba threatened to tip the world once more into disaster.  How I would have loved to have owned this, growing up in innocence of trench warfare.  It’s refinement is in total contrast to the life of the soldier making it.  How wonderful is the human spirit, to be able to witness the worst of human endeavour, and to still create a lasting , tiny, monument to cultured living.  Bizarre.


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