All right, it isn’t. Probably. (Have you checked?)
But what if it was?
When fire threatens, our first instinct is to save what is most precious to us – hence Sherlock Holmes’ deployment of a smoke bomb in A Scandal In Bohemia. That’s the theory, anyway. I have a horrible feeling that if suddenly confronted with the news that the house was on fire, I’d distinguish myself by saving a ratty old dressing gown, or a random piece of notepaper.
However, for the sake of the discussion, let us assume that theory and practice unite, and we do save those things which are dearest to us.
Let us also assume that all fellow residents and pets are able to get out without assistance, and therefore do not count as things to be saved.
As our hypothetical conflagration gets going, you have time to seize three things, providing you can carry all three at once – so what would they be? (No cheating and saying you would carry the fire out.)
The first thing that comes to my mind is my Sepik stool.
The Sepik is a river in Papua New Guinea, where stools are carved from a single block of wood, and used for pillows or for sitting on. I usually use mine as a footstool, but it started life as my first schoolroom seat. I’ve had it since I was four, and kept it through a myriad of moves between houses, cities and countries. It is one of the few constants in my life to date, and I am fond of it. It is practical, aesthetically pleasing, and says something about who I am – and what more can one ask of a humble piece of furniture?
The second thing I would save is a book. It isn’t the book which is most dear to me of all the books I own, but I’ve only ever come across the one copy of it, which makes it the hardest to replace. It was a very happy day when that one copy came into my possession, I can tell you. Hurray for library sales!
The book is Embroidery Mary by Priscilla M. Warner, a charming story about a girl learning embroidery from her aunt. It doesn’t contain a great deal of conflict or character arc, but it captures better than anything else I have read the excitement of beginning a new hobby. It’s also excellent reading for those times when life has left a nasty taste in your mouth and you want something to read that won’t spring dark surprises on you.
The third thing is also a book – sort of. What I’d actually grab is the drawer in my desk which contains the manuscript of my Work In Progress. It’s in the form of several exercise books, which is why I would go for the whole drawer: it’s faster, and remember, the house is on fire. Time is of the essence. Never mind the computer, I have back-ups.
So that’s my saved-from-the-fire stash: a stool, a book and a
ratty old dressing gown drawer of manuscript books. Each, in its own way, irreplaceable.
What about you? In the heat of the moment (hur hur) where would you turn?