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This cigarette case was a gift from Edward VIII (when he was Prince of Wales) to Pinna Nesbit Cruger.
Pinna was a film actress whom Edward met in 1924 while on a visit to North America. The two danced together frequently during his visit.
The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that she was a 'damned attractive woman'. No conclusive evidence exists that they were lovers, but the cigarette case suggests that Edward liked her a lot.
In a Missouri newspaper, published in 1925, an article on the pair reads:
'[They were] passionate adherents of the foxtrot and the one-step,' and they 'one-stepped and foxtrotted often.'
It sounds as innocent as it does scandalous. I'll leave you to make up your minds.
The case is gold and the thumb piece set with circular and single-cut diamonds. The inside lid is engraved: 'Pinna 1924 love - EP'. Edward VIII signed off with 'EP' when he was Prince of Wales.
Eventually the two moved apart and on and as we know from History, Edward found Wallis Simpson ('found' being a gross oversimplification of 'met, loved, abdicated for) and moved on to other gift-giving successes.
A woman picked up ceramic dish in a shop last week. It had a grey and white marble pattern printed on it. She said to her friend: ‘I love this. Marble is really on trend right now’.
I wanted to creep up behind the woman and say very close to her ear: ‘Marble has always been on trend. In fact, it’s been trending pretty consistently for the past 5,000 years.’
There is something very dispiriting about objects which pretend to be real objects. Like desks which look like wood but aren’t wood.
I kept my mouth shut and exited the store.
It is an amazing material.
There’s a marble table in the House of the Wooden Partition in Herculaneum. Also known as a cartibulum, this marble table is older that eruption of Vesuvius which destroyed the town in A.D 79.
It is amazing to think that this marble table has survived the risks of excavation, plunder and time. Still in situ, you can touch it and it feels just as smooth and cold as it did 2,000 years ago.
Marble is a good metaphor for potential and, as symbolic gifts go, I think it’s a much better gift than paper, cotton or linen for an anniversary.
It its natural state it’s pretty nice but with time, shaping and polish it could be transformed into something truly spectacular. As Michelangelo said ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free’
Here are my favourite marble gifts
Giving a knife as a gift is supposed to be symbolic of cutting the ties of friendship.
People have been known to give a coin to the giver in return so that it technically isn’t a gift.
It occurred to me that I’ve been given three knives in my life which, after typing that, sounds like three too many.
I believe enough time has passed for me to conclusively state whether knives foretell the demise of a friendship.
This Nepalese knife was a gift from my friend Ben (who also features here)
Ben lived in Kathmandu for a couple of years. I asked him why he bought it, expecting to hear some profound reasoning but he just said that it was one of the finer generic gifts from Nepal. He added: ‘I used one to cleave bubble wrap from a mattress and it was one of the most pleasurably visceral experiences of my life.’
State of our friendship: Solid.
2. Robert Welch steak knives
These were a wedding gift from a school friend.
State of our friendship: Very poor. At the wedding, the individual got so drunk that the got caught up in my dress, tore it and photobombed pictures of me with my family. There are some actions that fall into the category of unforgivable. On reflection, perhaps there are only two: treating a wedding reception like a night at the student union is one. Ripping someone’s wedding dress is another.
3. Cake knife
A wedding gift from friends of my husband’s parents.
State of our friendship: Unchanged. Our friendship level has remained completely constant because we rarely see the couple. Also, cake knives aren't designed to have the hewing strength, of say, a meat cleaver, so if knives are a symbol of cutting off a relationship then it would be a very soft friendship for a cake knife to do damage.
My findings are mixed. I conclude that you shouldn't worry about it. If you want to give a knife, give a knife.
Hopefully your friendship is stronger than superstition but if you want to ask for a penny in return, go for it but just make sure you do it in a safe environment where your intentions cannot be misconstrued (i.e. don’t brandish a knife and demand cash).
Before purchasing a knife, consider a spoon. An elderly couple (in their nineties) who live in the village where I grew up and have known me since I was a baby, gave me a Welsh love spoon when I got married. It’s lovely.
While typing this, I realise that our friendship has been the longest lasting of them all.