for someone who does not read is difficult. It is my natural inclination to head to a bookshop when I want to buy a present for someone.
On this occasion my father and I need a present for my sister-in-law. We love her dearly - almost as much as my brother does. It has to be something fairly small and unbreakable so that it can go in the post. A book would be ideal but we know she does not read, not even on holiday. She knows we know that.
So, yesterday I took an hour out after lunch and headed up the hill to a strange little shop. It is attached to a wholesaler. They import t-shirts for sale at zoos and sanctuaries, some high quality glassware, a little jewellry, pewterware and the like. It is not your average gift-shop full of dust-collectors. The shop is there more by accident than design. It is run as an afterthought to their main business. I have a t-shirt from there - it was the last of the line, excellent quality, a decent design, my size and very cheap. As I rarely buy clothes this was a real find.
It seemed natural to return to this place. The woman in there knows me by sight. I explained the problem to her. We looked at and rejected a number of things as too cheap, too expensive, unable to be posted (magnificent hand painted African glass bowl that) and not my sister-in-law. Then, suddenly, we both saw something at the same time..."that's it!"
She brought out from the display cabinet at the counter a small triskele on a chain. It was made in Cornwall. The design is just the sort of thing that will suit my sister-in-law's slightly alternative views on life. The curves of the design flow smoothly in and out of each other and then around again. The design is not new but it looks as modern as if it has been designed this morning. It is more than a thousand years old and yet it still pleases the eye. Someone, somewhere, in a different time and a different place, drew that shape. In its own way it can be read too.