On the day before his execution, Charles I called his two youngest children to him: Princess Elizabeth, aged thirteen and Henry, Duke of Gloucester, aged nine. He took young Henry on his knee and suggested he never let them make him king, as they would then cut off his head. The child replied, "I will be torn to pieces first".
Charles then shared with the children his last remaining wealth: "diamonds and jewels, most part broken Georges and Garters" which he had secreted "in a little cabinet ... closed with three seals".
The pathos of this scene is immense. It is both ordinary (jewels and garters and necklaces almost always break, eventually) and exemplary of the greater break in the body, and in the traditions of the monarchy that would follow the next day. In my draft of chapter five, I wrote today: "don’t we all have a supply of broken jewellery we neither repair nor discard?" I'm leaving that stand for the moment, but can I really get away with that question in my draft? Is this making my book appear too casual? Or is it the personal voice that we all crave?
It's resonant today, too, as I have been to the jeweller's today, the wonderful Robyn at Small Space Jewellery, to seek some repairs. The white gold and blue topaz earrings I bought in Beechworth last year need reinforcing, and the beautifully light beaten gold earrings Paul brought back from Beirut need gold hooks, not whatever metal was used by the man on the street stall. I've also been to the shoemaker's today, for some repairs on some boots, including the brown leather cowgirl boots I bought in London in 1982. What is it about imminent travel that sends me to these artisans, to repair and renew my accoutrements?
But what a moment for mortality. All those odd things lying around the house, waiting for repair, or use. Or in Charles's case, the detritus of office, the residue, the remainder, the fragments shored against his ruin.
OK. Enough mortality for now. It's Friday night: time for pizza, good red wine, lollies, and a movie, then falling asleep listening to the cricket from South Africa. Bliss!