Cupboard love – meaning being sweet because you want something – is an expression my mother used a lot when I was growing up and now I find myself wondering if it is well known or a bit of an “Isle of Wight-ism”. Regardless, I am frequently guilty of having cupboard love feelings.
Recently my aunt died after a long and drawn-out illness and I felt so ashamed – mingled in with the grief was a feeling of quiet expectation. It was terrible, I felt that my grief was polluted and I was sordid for even thinking that I might inherit a little money that might help with the new flat. I fought against this hopeful expectation and hated myself for having it, but still it lingered and entwined itself around my ankles like an affectionate cat, just waiting for me to trip up. So it was that when I heard what was in the will my heart leapt and I felt unburdened.
My wealthy aunt, with no children and few relations, had left everything to the RNLI and the National Trust. My mother shared the news with trepidation, saying that she knew how welcome a little money would have been. It was wonderful! The RNLI deserves support and visiting National Trust properties had given my aunt a great deal of pleasure – the donations were a fitting memorial to her and I could miss her without feeling guilty about looking forward to an inheritance. And so what if that meant that buying the flat – or, strictly speaking, furnishing it – would be made more difficult. Frankly, why shouldn’t something like that be a bit of a struggle; there’s no reason why that should be made easy for us. I was a little sad that I wouldn’t have anything to remember her by – and if I’m honest I truly coveted the fabulous chessmen that I’d lovingly gazed at in her sitting room, despite the fact that I play rarely and badly – but I genuinely thought that the work of the RNLI was the best tribute.
Mum called on Saturday. My aunt’s belongings – furniture, kitchen appliances and so forth – had been valued (as every part of her estate must be so that the RNLI and National Trust can get their dues), but because she had cut the labels off the furniture (removing the fire-retardant information) the suite was unsellable. The man from the auction house said he’d give £200 and take everything, but my aunt’s sister in law said no thanks. Sister in law rang my mum and told her that TA and I could have the lot – whatever we wanted – for the new flat. She also asked if there was anything in particular we wanted and mum told her that my aunt had promised us the chessmen (apparently this is true, who knew – certainly I’d never shared my envy of and desire for the beautiful chessmen).
My aunt was “comfortable” as they say in the stockbroker belt, and her house was tastefully (and expensively) furnished; she was a compulsive cleaner – everything was kept absolutely immaculate. She was also a cordon bleu cook and I’m salivating at the possibility of raiding her kitchen for pots, pans and everything else. I’m thrilled and excited to be the lucky recipient of free stuff (items that are better quality than TA and I could possibly afford right now) and astounded that an object of lust will now take pride of place in my new home, but, but… The guilt is back. In spades.