So proud am I of my latest acquisition that I thought it was worth sharing with the wider world, for I am now the contented owner of a Peruvian wrestling mask. How? Because Daughter Number One has recently returned from a three-month ‘cultural’ visit to South America and she deduced that, above all else the continent has to offer – even a kilo of purest cocaine – a gaudy, knitted tea-cosy was what I really wanted. At least she won’t be arrested for smuggling drugs, even if I am arrested for wearing her present in public, particularly if I cycle past a primary school.
This all stems back to the advice my father gave me as a youth travelling the world. “Whatever you do son,” he said, nodding sagely, “bring your mother back a present.”
I did and how grateful she was for the little glass bull from Spain, the elegant if slightly damaged vase from a kibbutz, and the jar of maple syrup from Canada. Eventually, my offerings turned into a 200-pack of king-size, but that’s another story. All the ‘proper’ presents, I found in a cupboard after her death – and I have them to this day, clogging up one of my own.
However, the tradition continues down the family line and, as well as their mum, dad gets included too. That’s real intergenerational progress. I don’t want to inspire envy, but I now also own a brass dancing Indian god, a creamy-coloured Buddha statue, a Vietnamese wine bottle holder, a Moroccan tagine set and a chipped cup from Cuzco of such fragility that it didn’t quite make the journey home in one piece. If nothing else, my little collection shows just how well-travelled the young ’uns already are. One day, I’m sure, I will be the talk of the neighbourhood when I parade my piece of rock brought home triumphantly and expensively from the moon.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful but when the Mask arrived I had to confess I hadn’t heard of such an artefact and guiltily looked it up on the internet. To my astonishment, there are indeed such things as Peruvian wrestling masks, although the ones worn by the wrestlers appear to be much bigger and more elaborate affairs. Not wanting to disappoint DN1, I immediately put it on and sat down with a cup of tea to watch telly. I didn’t last long, as it quickly became apparent that you can’t actually see out of them, and breathing – let alone drinking tea – is all but impossible.
Nevertheless, it will go on display and – like all the other wonders of the Orient and beyond that have made it to this corner of Scotland – will never be parted with. They say it’s the thought that counts. n