Monday, 13 January 2014


Quite a long time ago, someone gave me a set of six handsome tumblers. Made in Poland (a country which produces some really striking glassware), they are satisfyingly robust - heavy in the hand, with the bulk of the weight in the thick base of the glass. They make a pleasing thunk when set down on the table or bookshelf between sips of the two things I most enjoy drinking from them: cognac or a tatanka (szarlotka, if you prefer).

The person who gave me this gift remains a friend, albeit one whom I expect to meet only very rarely in the years ahead. For a shortish period in the mid-1990s we were a couple. But the pleasures and pains of that period were already pretty firmly consigned to the past by the time the box of six heavy tumblers was given to me as a present very early in this new twenty-first century. She might have even said the words "when you use these glasses, perhaps you'll think of me". Or maybe that's just a false memory which I have confected since. It doesn't matter. The funny thing is, I do sometimes think of her when handling one of these glasses. But it isn't usually when drinking from it.

Each glass has an air bubble blown into its thick bottom section. The bubble is not completely trapped inside the material, though. Instead, each bubble is open to the fresh air, via a small hole in the bottom of the base of the tumbler. The very first time I used and washed one of these glasses, it became apparent that soapy water had entered the bubble. This happens whether the glasses are washed by hand or in a dishwasher. It can't be avoided. Not being the most practically minded of people, it took me a little while to figure out the best way to get the water out. It involves slapping the palm of your hand against the aperture. This seems to create a vacuum effect, thereby sucking the liquid out. A few slaps are required. A wet hand always results. A wet sleeve is possible too. But this is preferable to the interim method I used for a little while - sucking soapy water out with my mouth and then quickly spitting it into the sink. That was inelegant.

It is during this little ritual, then, that I am briefly reminded of the woman who bought me the set of glasses. She's a good person. I don't think I'm a terrible person. But somehow or other we spent a while treating each other less well than good people really ought to do. It's not a pissing contest, but I guess I behaved more objectionably towards her than she did towards me. I'm not sure whether she sees it like that or if her interpretation allows for a more charitable view of my part in the whole thing. I'll probably never know because it just doesn't feel right to go over all that old ground again all these years later. But either way, part of the time we spent together was not without upset. Perhaps that's why I think of her when slapping the dishwater from the bubble of one of her glasses more readily than I do when sitting comfortably with a nice drink. 

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