It was the vase on my mantelpiece that brought me to life two tides ago; I do love him for that. He says he was made in Cimmeraria thousands of years ago by a mystic tribal brotherhood and that this is the 1905th year of the Nazarene. He tells me that he gave life to me as he wanted to talk, that he is immortal and can see the future and past.
It was easy to put life in me he said, he put language into me, collapsed my memory waveform and my life started. It always does he says, it’s the way it works.
We are in Brixton in England, a good part of town Vase tells me, the English are cruel and rule the world.
I love it when the hoomins gather round me to feel the warmth they start in me, and that the warmer I get the better I feel. They are just the same, so I have a lovely life surrounded by laughter and happiness. The children are the nicest, except for when young Emily gets discomforted and hits the child next to her. Vase says she gets the vapours, whatever that is. Could the vapours from my fire fix her?
Vase says I will not like summer when I will be very lonely, what is a summer? Vase says he will cheer me up with interesting stories of the world outside this room; I am interested in the outside. I hear a lot about the yellow peril outside, them and the Bosche, they make my fire go cold. The way they talk about their menaces makes me think they like to be scared.
I was decorated with streamers last night and feel giddy; it is a celebration! Vase says it is the midwinter feast of Beltane that the Nazarene has hijacked. He says the decorations on my mantelpiece are good for the socio/economic class that live here, and that the hoomins in our house are conventionally conformist even for a good middle class area like Brixton.
But there will be a celebration! The children are sent to bed and shuffle off dejectedly, they want to stay up late. Some boxes are bought out, fitted with shiny skins and put round my grate. Do they want to burn them?
And the long knitted tubes they have put up on my flat head near Vase, strange…. my fires die down and I sleep.
The morning starts early with the scullery maid lighting me, I can hear the children getting fed, there is noise and then all the hoomins come in to gather round my fire, they do love me, I am so glad, pleased and silly. The Pooters gather round me and do strange things, one stands in front of the others and waves their arms while keeping quiet, the others shout at him until he stops waving and is replaced with someone else who waves. Vase says they are pretending to be something else, which the others have to guess what it is. The hoomins make games out of lies!
Vase says this is what they do all the time, play idiot games of deception. This confuses me, the lost hoomins need me to warm and calm them, and I will melt their lies. Vase says the celebration will do this as well; the feast day is today.
There is laughter from the eating room and the smallest child comes and sits near me to warm himself. He leans against the chair and reads his book, the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred annual, Vase says this is what he really wanted. Vase says he is a wufnik and will have a hard life because of this, I want help him. Vase says he is here to be tested and to testify; he is a very rare and precious hoomin and why Vase is here.
The maid has put food on the table by the window; there are pies, cold meats, jellies, cream and beer. There is contentment in the room, the family has feasted and a warm fug has spread over all.
Vase says the levels are getting dangerous; levels, what levels? One of them should open a window Vase tells me. I tamp down my fire but cannot do that for long, I am concerned.
Vase says some singers are coming, but what will they do, will they sing to my fire? I hope it helps. They are outside now; their song is soft and low, the children notice and stir, they all cough at the fug around them and push open the door to the singers.
The hoomins don’t play idiot games all the time, there is beauty in their singing and they weep to hear it, rejoice at the joy the tears have wrought in their hearts.
The song melted their souls into each other, they combined their hearts’ gentle tenderness into kind warmth that reached out with hope to all the homes in the vast city around, to reach out and give peace to all in its quiet kindness. There was a still peace there; a wonderful peace that was all pure joy, sweet and pretty joy.
Vase says copious weeping is a sign of a declining empire; he says the hoomins in London think of themselves as gods and weep in their vanity for their mortality and frailty. But he says he is cynical and I am not to pay him any mind.
The singers have been encouraged by the sobbing of the Pooters and are singing more; the Pooters give them metal.
Now the Pooters have come back into my room and are looking at rotating pictures through an eye of some sort; Vase says they can see the pictures moving in this eye.
They are an inventive lot, who would have thought that something so unmoving could move? Vase says their work on this movement machine would bring them great art and great evil but would show them who they are and what they do if only they would look.
Vase says fate and destiny would work out for hoomins, look at today, how they stopped their silly deceits they play, how this day has made them smile and cry tears of joy in abundance, what a work of art they are when the last tale is told and the last day grows dim.
That is what makes them worth something to preserve despite all their gross stupidities and ignorant excesses. They are vile to each other on a grand scale, but they can make objects of unutterable beauty that puts the god’s artifices to shame and they are capable of unselfish love for others, it is their saving grace. Vase says that is the best thing there is in the whole world and that hoomins are nothing without it, so I will bring love to them all.
Happy Xmas, your friend, Mary Marble the Fireplace.
Written by Tim Woodman from the keyword Fireplace.