Sunday, 15 January 2012

Reverse bartering - an English family custom

The story behind these earrings is as follows. Last summer, I was getting ready to drive over to a family wedding together with my son, when I got a phone call out of the blue from my dad, saying that my cousin-once-removed had forgotten her red earrings and could I make her some quickly please? So no pressure there then - having to make one of my first pair of earrings, in under an hour, while in sole charge of an excited three-year-old who was refusing to wear his smart wedding outfit which I'd carefully chosen in advance!

The other thing was, I didn't really have any actual red beads, but after a bit of a dig through my already embarrassingly large stash, I remembered I had a few of these little red cloisonne beads - but then they had gold metal on them, so I wanted to do the rest of the earrings in gold colour too - but I only had these rather thick headpins that I'd bought from another beader and which are a nightmare to wrap neatly. Cue much panicking.

Anyway, somehow I finished them, and took them along (a bit embarrassed that the wire-wrapping was a bit messy - however, I did at least take care to file down any sharp edges), and we had one of those "reverse bartering" situations you only seem to get within families - she offered to give me £19 for them - nineteen pounds! I was astonished she would offer so much - but happily, I eventually managed to get her to accept them as a gift.

The most important thing, and a really nice memory for me from the day (apart from the sight of the bride, in vintage fifties apparel, enjoying her pint of real ale!), was that the cousin-once-removed really loved her last-minute, custom-made earrings. Well, either that or she was so polite you couldn't tell the difference, but that's par for the course in English families, you know. You have to take praise at face value when you get it, or you'd go slightly crazy.

The day was not an unmitigated success, however; the car had an argument with a Yorkshire dry-stone wall, which the dry-stone wall won conclusively. Luckily the only damage was to the paintwork on the bumper, which doesn't count in my book because it's only plastic underneath.

Oh, and I never did manage to persuade my son to wear that smart wedding outfit.

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