Every once in a while, you get a phone call about something or other and if you happen to be the curator of a museum sometimes the conversations appear ever so slightly puzzling. Such as the lady who rang and said ‘would you like my mother’s dome?‘ – I said ‘pardon!?’, to which she replied: ‘you know what I mean, the wee black cape that everybody wore to church and special events!” and I thought ‘ach it’s dolman!‘. However if she wants to call it a dome who am I to contradict!
There is also still a lady in Dalry who tries to nip into a doorway if she sees me coming, and if there is no doorway, she either looks away or blushes, or both! This goes back some 25 years when at the age of 11 she knocked on the door of our house in Dalry, and when I opened it, she held up a white plastic bag and said ‘My mummy says these are for your collection‘. To which I replied ‘What is it?‘, and she said ‘it’s my granny’s knickers!‘. She apparently never recovered from my hysterical laughter!
However, some calls result in the most delightful and surprising gifts. And yesterday, a lovely lady was brought to the Mill by car, and managed to conquer the ramp and take a seat in the coffee room. Having been summoned she said ‘you may not remember but I called you about two years ago to see if you would be interested in having my wedding dress‘. I smiled politely, and said ‘oh yes‘, and then she said the magic words ‘my mother knitted it for me, and one for the bridesmaid and the attendant!‘ At that point, I did remember the phone call and I had in my mind a photograph of another knitted dress I had seen, which was cobwebby, fine and simply draped. So here she was, with a companion and an enormous, beautifully made dress cover, and a collection of what turned out to be albums of wedding photographs. Stepping forward I unzipped the white cover, and any illusions or ideas or mental pictures that I may have had evaporated immediately! Ladies and gentlemen, this dress is indescribable, it is astonishing, amazing, unbelievable and having taken it out and photographed it this morning, a wonderful statement of skill and love.