The marbles I bought for the blue room. Because they were pretty, cheap, fun, whimsical, throwaway trinkets and knickknacks. From time to time I would slosh them about in soapy water, dry them and rearrange them in different glass and ceramic receptacles.
When the time came to sort through stuff, it seemed to me that to treasure and hoard them and feel obliged to carry them through life would be a mistake and somehow against the spirit of marbles. I needed to part with them. I asked Iso if the Princeling, now nine years old, cared for marbles. I knew French kids still often played and treasured les billes.
Indeed he did, she said, and they were the only toys they were allowed to take into school.
I took a plain piece of the cotton fabric pieces that HHB had sent me, knitted a length of i-cord, and made a drawstring bag for them, and passed them on.
'He could lose them, you know,' Tom warned 'playing marbles is basically gambling.'
'They're beautiful, like jewels!' Iso, Princeling's mum exclaimed, when I gave them to her to give to him, 'I might have to keep them, not let him have them...'
That was a couple of months ago. Today we received a hand made card, with rainbows and kisses painted on it, and a careful message in English, in French cursive script, thanking me for the marbles and also for the jumper I knitted for his birthday - It's all hot. I love it* - a kind of gansey type thing which I didn't photograph before giving it to him, but it's this pattern, in a rather sober, grown-up, grey-green wool/alpaca blend which I hope isn't too drab, he's a chap who likes colour. I don't know if Iso had kept the marbles until his birthday, and I don't know if he will take them to school and be prepared to risk them all at one turn of pitch and toss. I rather hope so, if he wants to, and that they won't be too much of a treasure and a source of gratitude, obligation and anxiety, and that he'll romp and play in the jumper, dirty it, hole it and scuff it up until he grows out of it.
*chaud being both hot and warm, he has always tended to think in French and translate, so 'is it yours?' was expressed as ' is it at you?' a literal translation of 'est-ce que c'est à toi?'