We’ve been in our house for about fourteen months.
We bought it for a fairly good price. It had apparently been on the market for over a year, a sale had already fallen through once, and the vendors were desperate to get shot of it. They were also divorcing, and so desperate to get shot of each other too.
So we saved a bit of money from someone else’s misery.
They didn’t help themselves with their choice of decor. Not to put too fine a point on it – it was (and is, where we haven’t yet decorated) bloody dreadful. It seems that most potential buyers are too stupid to look past pink carpets and orange walls and appalling light fittings, but the vendors couldn’t be bothered to slap a load of magnolia everywhere before they photographed it.
So we saved more money from someone else’s willful ignorance and laziness. Still not feeling guilty about it.
It would be arrogant to suggest that our sense of taste is at the top-end of some mythical “metric of home furnishing style”. The best I can say is that whatever scale of taste there might be, ours is at one end of it, and the vendors’ is at the other.
Yesterday my wife was re-arranging items in a deep, low cupboard. What she had hitherto believed was a boxed-in pipe right in the furthest corner turned out to be nothing more than a plain white cardboard box that had been pushed right to the back – the vendors had missed it when they moved out.
Inside this box, still in polystyrene, was this little gem:
The box describes the contents as “The Tree of Life Goblet”. I’ve seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade … this is not the cup of a carpenter.
At first glance, it may seem cheap and tacky – an imitation of a pagan goblet that wouldn’t even fool those people who collect figurines of dragons holding glass ‘crystals’. But I have discovered it is worth repeated inspection, because each time you do … it gets so much worse. It seems that ghastly is cumulative – like radiation poisoning.
Each time I announce to the world “I can’t believe they bought this shite” before picking it up to cast more scorn on it, a new element of dreadfulness presents itself. The disturbing tree. The painted-on ‘gems’. The five-pointed stars. The poorly-applied felt on the base. The removable stainless-steel inner cup – presumably for the modern Pagan Of Today who needs their ritualistic crockery to be dishwasher-safe.
This single item represents the intersection of disparate worlds. It is a simultaneous homage to a superficial interpretation of crackpot medieval practices, a blatant cash-in on a teenager’s faux-goth faze, and a prime example of mass-produced drivel. Put like that: this thing is amazing.
None of which explains how it got in our house.
When I met the vendors, I didn’t take them for Pagans, or Wiccans, or even vegetarians. According to our neighbours, they were more of the partying sort. Partying with friends sort. Partying intently with friends sort. So whilst there may very well have been a lot of people cavorting naked in what is now our living room (which would explain some of the stains on the carpet) I suspect it had less to do with hugging trees under the moonlight during summer solstice and more to do with putting all the car-keys in a bowl.
I am left with an interesting puzzler – how best to deal with it? There’s always eBay – bound to be some fool who needs to be parted from his money. But I wouldn’t be able to help myself – the description would become so sarcastic I’d do myself out of a sale: “the ideal purchase for cretins, the easily led or tastefully corrupt”.
I might take it to work, and drink from it during meetings. Perhaps I’ll bring it out next time I’m on an interview panel, though I’d need to cultivate a goatee. I’d fill the goblet with something suspiciously bloodlike, take a sip, and say “SO, FOOLISH VIRGIN – WHAT SKILLS DO YOU THINK YOU COULD BRING TO THIS COMPANY?” The ‘virgin’ part is quite likely if I’m interviewing a junior programmer.
If all else fails: that’s my sister’s birthday present sorted.