In his own words…
“Bhutanese Dancing Mask:
Mahakala is among the Dharmapalas or ‘Defenders of the doctrine’. These ghosts, demons and deities belonging to the old Tibetan and Bhutanese tradition, have been converted or adapted from Padmasambhava to Buddhism and is equivalent to the Hindu deity Shiva. There are dozens of different manifestations of Mahakala but he always has three eyes and carries a 5-skull crown that represent hatred, greed, pride, envy and ignorance. I bought it in an antique shop in Thimphu when we were filming The Lost Land on the Tiger in Bhutan.
Nickel silver plate tea caddy spoon:
This spoon belonged to my wife’s Mother and her Great Aunt Alice before that. I have used it to make tea for nearly 40 years. It is just the perfect shape and size. When I met Lois it was love at first sight – well for me at any rate and I asked her to marry me inside a month. She was rather reticent for several years and it was only when I promised to make her tea and bring it to her in bed every morning for the rest of her life that she decided it was too good an offer to miss. With the exception of when I have been away on trips, I have kept my promise.
The spoon is engraved with ‘The Drink of Health’ in the bowl and ‘Pure Tea’ on the handle. ‘Wilson’s’ and ‘Croydon’ was added to the handle by the retailer.
Prepared Fulmar skull:
My interest in the natural world began at a very early age and when I was on family Summer holidays, usually on the coast of Scotland, I would busy myself with some biological project such as a survey of a rocky shore or a collection of pressed plants. I would often find the bodies of dead seabirds along the shore and decided that a collection of bird skulls might be rather a good thing to have. This fulmar skull is one of the first ones I prepared – I must have been around 14 years old. I would make a small fire on the beach and find an old can in which to boil the skull in seawater. When cooked, I would take it home and clean off all the flesh and gristle – sometimes using biologically active washing power to finish the job. When cleaned and dried I would then glue any bits back that has come adrift.
I got my first handlens as a teenager and it opened up a whole miniature world of wonderment. I can imagine how Antonie van Leeuwenhoek must have felt peering down one of his early lenses. I have temporarily mislaid this lens, so the image is of my third lens. I don’t think I would go anywhere without a x10 handlens.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
The first four lines from Auguries of Innocence by William Blake
English brass bell (which I thought was from India):
My maternal Grandfather, John Cumming, was the chief engineer for a Scottish shipping fleet. If on-board or local engineers were unable to repair breakdowns, he would be dispatched to sort things out. His house in Glasgow had all and of souvenirs he would bring back from his foreign travels and this brass bell hung in the hallway of my grandparents’ house. We would visit most weekends and it is the only thing I have to remind me of this part of my life. It was used to summon everyone for meals.
My grandfather did have a small stuffed alligator and a puffer fish on the wall in the hallway but I now find out in researching this object that it is an English Sanctuary bell. The bell has the words Agnus, Pelicanus, Leo and Aquila around it with an impression of each animal below the wording. This is all symbolic of the Christian faith. Leo the Lion symbolises St. Mark. Aquila the Eagle symbolises St. John. Pelicanus the pelican, represents the atonement of Jesus and Agnus the Lamb symbolises his supreme sacrifice.
This was my sporran as a young boy. I have the kilt and Harris Tweed jacket as well and my daughter Amy once wore it although it was a little too big for her. I don’t really know why I keep it but it does bring back all kinds of memories.”
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