I spent the whole of Sunday afternoon polishing an old coal hod I bought from a rag-and-bone shop just off Columbia Road. The tarnish has all rubbed off now and it looks like an archaeological ‘feature’, perhaps a bronze-age helmet, with a Romanesque chin piece sticking into the air.
After I bought it I picked up some chrysanthemums last minute from the flower market. I always visit just before the stall holders leave and the prices are at rock-bottom. I bought two pots: one with petal heads the colour of honey, the other the colour of rooibus tea. I stuck both plants inside the coal hod and strung it to the toggle of my rucksack with a piece of twine. I was not an easy cycle, my copper flask kept swinging against my side and getting in the way of my arms.
Now the coal hod is glittering in its rightful place in the stone-tiled hearth. I take pride in filling it with brittle, crystalline lumps of coal. Polishing copper is a very pleasant way to pass an afternoon.