Button box

button box“At the top of the garden, the camelia is covered in pink flowers, bright enough for me to see.  Purple wild crocuses have spread into the lawn and snowdrops brighten the ground under the hedge.  Catkins hang from the hazel tree and the greedy squirrel is stealing the blackbird’s seeds.

All this hyperbole means that there is no stopping the arrival of Spring and and an uncharacteristic surge of domesticity.  My spring cleaning is haphazard and mercifully doesn’t last long.  Mostly it involves some mild de-cluttering.

At the bottom of my wardrobe there is a shelf housing a collapsing carton containing pins and needles, scissors and other sewing accessories. Inexplicably there is also a tin of black shoe polish (who uses shoe polish these days?) and several aerosol cans of shoe protector.  Oh, and I forgot … a set of pinking  shears.  Best of all is my button box.

My Irish grandmother was a tailor and her buttons were kept in a black lacquered box with a lid covered in a Japanese willow design. Inside were dozens of buttons.  These could have been recycled from old garments or the belt and braces of her trade.  I loved playing with them, but for me they were simply pretty things.

My button box is different. Each button has a memory.  Green rose buttons discovered in a charity shop, kittens bought for a baby’s cardigan I never knitted, tiny pearl buttons taken off a favourite blouse and very basic buttons that ‘might come in handy’.  When they were small, my grandchildren played with them.  Now they have graduated to football and makeup.  So why do I keep this button box?

It has recently come into its own again. I can no longer distinguish between navy and black clothes, so a kind friend has sewn buttons inside all my navy clothes.  What I relief that I will no longer commit the fashion crime of wearing black with navy!

Back in the 18th century buttons were in the vanguard of the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution.  What would we do without them?  Accessible technology comes in all shapes and sizes.

Do you have a button box?  What memories does it evoke?  Do you think buttons will survive the 21st century?



Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay with David Oyelowo  giving the performance that should have won him an Oscar but didn’t even give him a nomination.

The Second Best Exotic Great Marigold Hotel with lots of elderly actors having fun in India.  Very colourful and good to see some men acting with the grand Dames of British Theatre.


Listened to on Audible and also available in book or Kindle form from Amazon or most good bookshops and  libraries.

“To Let” by John Galsworthy

Read by David Crace.  I am reading this along with Ali, Liz and Karen and will be posting a review later.

“Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon

Read by Joe Barrett (but not too sure of his grasp of the English accent.  I don’t know any better so hope this doesn’t apply to his American versions).  Lovely book … erudite and unpretentious account of the writer’s travels on the B roads of the USA.  My favourite travel book yet.

“A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler

Beautifully read by Kimberley Farr.  One of my favourite authors doesn’t disappoint.

A question: would you like me to add links to these book titles – and Amazon, Audible, or both? Do let me know!

This entry was posted in Audio books, Birmingham, books, cinema, Family, Literature, low vision, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Button box

  1. I love the buttons repurposed. What a great memory about the button box, too.

    The more links, the merrier. I vote for book links.

  2. Repurposed is a new word for me! Is it the same as our recycled? I enjoy the differences in our languages. Thanks for your feedback about the links.

    • Nordie says:

      Repurposed = Recycled.

      Upcycled is not the same as Recycled, and means you change one thing into another. rather than throwing the whole thing away.

      E.g. a tyre becomes a raised plant bed. Shirt scraps become a quilt. A jumper with a stain in the middle becomes a cardigan. Jackets become waistcoats.

  3. Nordie says:

    I was using my button box last night no less! I realised that my newly applied duvet cover was missing 4 buttons, so some new ones were added last night. Do they match each other or the originals? Of course not! do they prevent me from waking in the night being strangled by my duvet cover (sans duvet) that has managed to work it’s way up the bed? Of course!

    As for the links, I think links would be great, especially if you have found a link to someone other than that much reviled Amazon and it’s subsidiaries – e.g. can people support the RNIB or equivalent by getting a talking book from them instead? I’d much rather give my £10 to someone who works in/with a certain community (insert required grumble grumble, left wing anti-capitalist anti-tax-avoidance blah blah etc here!)

    • Liz Dexter says:

      We can certainly add links to print and audio books on the lovely hive.co.uk which gives a percentage of sales to local independent bookshops …

      • Thanks, Liz. Your help with the links is invaluable. It looks as if ebooks can be downloaded from Hive using Adobe and an app. I don’t really understand it but will check it out. I have found that downloading audio books onto an ipad is really only possible from Audible. If anyone has found an alternative that will work on an ipad I would love to hear from them..I much prefer not using Amazon!

  4. Nordie says:

    With the British General Election coming up in a few months I would be interested to hear what options are available to the Vision Impaired. Postal voting? Attending postal station with a magnifying glass? Taking *two* people into the booth? Would you like to see electronic voting?

    • When I voted in the local election I found that the voting slip was large enough for me to see but it is an interesting question. I haven’t registered for the postal vote as I can still manage the polling station but a number of my friends have. I am not keen on the electronic vote for all kinds of reasons. But I will find out what the official position is regarding seriously VI people getting help and come back to,you.

  5. That’s the thing about button boxes…you can mix and match if you want. I’m wondering though if it’s a phenomenon unique to the UK. Sadly, if you want to download audio books you can really only do it through an Amazon subsiary. In theory, using Overdrive you should be able to do it from the Librarynorvthe RNIB. I spent two hours at the wonderful Action for the Blind and even their technical expert couldn’t get it to work on my ipad in spite of telephone help with both the library and the RNIB. The latter is annoying as they charge a subscription fee on the basis that this facility is available. I haven’t yet tried downloading ebooks from another source. Would be interested to hear from anyone who has been successful with either of these.

  6. Gillian Rose says:

    We still use shoe polish in our house!! Including daughter’s boyfriend, who had to be taught to polish shoes when he moved in (among other things)!

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