13 Apr

I made a small table in 2000 for woman I met on a train to in 1998. I married her in 2003. The table top is made from Padauk, a blood red African hard wood of exceptional toughness and the legs are made from ripple sycamore (usually kept for violin backs). I made it freestyle (no pattern, no design, just an idea in my head) for someone who loves puzzles. I think it is one of my favourite pieces because it emerged entirely unbidden from the depths of my feelings for her.Image

We had collected the marbles over time from Hamley’s in London, from Fenwick’s in Newcastle and sundry toy shops up and down the land – just because she liked them – and I’d been steadily losing mine at the time she met me. She must have thought she’d found the mother of all puzzles when I completely lost the plot in 2001. I was sectioned and diagnosed with BiPolar disorder after a spectacular nervous breakdown.

Anyone who lives with a person diagnosed with BiPolar disorder has to be exceptionally tough and bloody minded, because we are mercurial mardy bastards, and that is on a good day. She derives solace from being alone, not being ‘mithered’ as she puts it, but by being allowed to just ‘be’. Solitaire is her favourite  James Bond heroin and reading, cooking and puzzles her favourite hobbies. In the story Solitaire had an uncanny ability to judge the veracity of others – Bond picks “The Fool” out of Solitaire’s deck of cards –  Solitaire:  “You have found yourself”. Her powers, as my grandmother (Oma) would say are ‘Voodoo!’

The Greek God Paean healed the other Gods on mount Olympus with herbal lore and medicines. In English the word paean means a lyric song of thanksgiving. Having been shown the cards by a master player and absorbed the lessons, this is the spirit in which I make.

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