Growing up, we had an antique cabinet in the lounge which kept the ‘good stuff’.
Inside was a set of cutlery, gifted to my parents on their wedding day. Blue card boxes, smelling faintly of yesteryear, decoratively inlaid with swirling gold designs. Between layers of delicate tissue paper, a full set – 12 knives and forks, dessert spoons, fish knives, cake forks… A full works perhaps at odds with the minimalist trends of the 21st century.
That set of cutlery sat in our cabinet year upon year; waiting for a christening or anniversary or wake or such other rightful momentous occasion. But year upon year collecting dust. Creating no memories.
As perhaps in most South African homes, Sunday lunch held a special kind of romance. Whether a simple meal, or a more elaborate roast, it was a chance for our small family to gather round the table, enjoy a good meal and share in some engaged conversation.
When the occasion called, bedecking the kitchen table with a breezy cotton cloth or a few garden pickings, was something to take relish in. With the glass doors open to the potted courtyard, perhaps some Mediterranean cafe music on the CD player, and the smell of roasting lamb or homegrown tomatoes, the scene would be set for an enjoyable afternoon.
Setting the table one afternoon, I asked my mother why we never used that cutlery. Instead, we used the same set of plates nightly; with a chipped side plate or two or perhaps a mix-matched cutlery setting, making their way onto our table.
“That’s for special occasions,” she replied.
Recently I gave someone a Mungo gift. A Boma Cloth from our kitchen linen range. An item just as functional as attractive, and what felt like a fitting gift for a I-haven’t-seen-you-in-a-while-sorry-I-missed-your-birthday-last-month sort of weeknight dinner.
Drawing the cloth to their chest, my friend exclaimed, “Oohh, how beautiful! My very own Mungo!”
I was adequately thrilled to delight.
“I’m going to put it away in my special drawer and keep it until I’ve moved house, where I’ll only use my precious things!”
My delight turned to disappointment. What was the point of that? A perfectly functional object, relegated to a never-to-be-used drawer because it was just ‘too good’?
Recently we had the brilliant Julian Culverhouse visit us to shoot a video on the Mungo story. Watching the final video for the first time, I was struck by something Tessa, our Creative Director, said.
“My worst is when people look at a Mungo product and go ‘that’s too special for me.’”
And I knew exactly what she meant.
Yes, Mungo things are special. They are beautiful, and of a high quality. And they reflect a kind of craftsmanship sometimes at odds with our over-mechanised world.
But they’re also designed for use and enjoyment.
Don’t put your life on hold waiting for the right moment, or the right occasion, to bring out the good silver.
If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that this moment is precious. This moment is the one worth breaking out the good stuff for.