|Charles, you could have done a better job|
I was rummaging through a drawer the other day in my expansive 'Master Study' when I noted a faint cloying odour. I couldn't place it for a second although it tugged vaguely at some deep seated memory. I removed the drawer containing the evocative olfactory stimulus (steady Flaxen, ya starting to wax again) and tipped the contents onto the shag pile. I peered intently into the mound of detritus and shiny things...... And there it was coiled provocatively around an empty container of 'Tic Tacs'. A dishevelled/shrivelled collection on brown string- it was granddad's old ear collection which he bequeathed to me in his will. As I recall it was: item number 6. Not so much grisly as gristly. I hadn't seen them for a few years, but they hadn't changed. Twenty-seven ears, all pierced dead centre and threaded onto old fashioned brown waxed string. Time had not been kind to this assorted allotment of grizzled pinna. Over the years they had folded upon themselves and taken on a distinct, dark amber hue; very reminiscent of a 'pork scratching'.
When I was young my father, bless him, when in his cups, would regale me with lurid tales about his father's wartime exploits during the Great war and would hint darkly about a mysterious relic which never left granddad's waist coat pocket. So I was aware of the 'Ear Story' but put it down to old soldier's tales. And so the years passed and old gramps finally passed away. His small collection of goods were distributed amongst the relatives. My cousin was left grandfather's gold fob watch on a silver chain and I got item number six secreted inside an old cocoa tin. And who said the old cunt didn't have a sense of humour.
I never really knew my wicked old gramps. I can't recall him ever speaking to me directly or taking the slightest interest in me. Which is just as well as he spoke an archaic form of the '
Black country' dialect which seemed to use few actual English words. My most vivid memory of him was his eyes, which were piercing and bright china blue.
Of course, it is nothing new for soldiers to take souvenirs from the battlefield. My dad had a couple of cap badges and a bugle with a bullet hole taken during the Korean conflict. But old gramps had an ear collection and had passed them on to me as a dark joke. I have considered burying them, but I confess, the ears hold me in their macabre and ghastly thrall. A legacy is supposed to be something to cherish and it is the only physical item I have to remind me of the nasty miserable old bastard. I did notice that some of the ears were collecting a black speckled mould, which I cleaned off with 70% ethanol. So, after a quick spray with air freshener (mountain dew) and a quick rub down with a chamois cloth, back in the drawer they went.
Uncannily enough, my own son resembles my grandfather quite closely, even down to the same shade of blue eyes. Therefore, I thought it only fitting that once my span has run its course, I should pass on the family 'Heirloom' to Flaxen junior. I will have to put an explanatory note in the old cocoa tin otherwise, he might just throw the ears, away. Tis a Flaxen tradition, after all.