Heirloom Or Paraphernalia

No less an accomplished novelist than P.D.James has provided a positive introduction to my Folio Society 1990 edition of Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Eustace Diamonds’. Ms James has accurately analysed the characters featured in the book, and rightly, highlighted Trollope’s understanding of the nature of women and the plight of those without an income in Victorian Britain.

Trollope’s novel is a lengthy saga based on the ownership and the search for the thieves of the eponymous jewellery. His usual skills of characterisation, dialogue, and flowing language are employed. I have to say, however, that my interest waned somewhere about the middle of the story, when I struggled with the writer’s philosophising. I began to feel that I didn’t care who owned the, or who had stolen them, if, indeed, they had been purloined. Nevertheless, I did persevere, and on balance, was pleased I had done so.

The Folio Sociaty remained committed to Llewellyn Thomas for the illustrations to this Palliser series. I have explained before why I do not like these.

This is just as well given that I spent most of the day wrestling with the installation of High Sierra, the new Operating System for iMac. By late afternoon, the outside light having disappeared, I had, with the help of Apples technical help advisers, learned that the procedure, now underway, would take another 9 hours. Not having the stomach to scan old film images and struggle with the Windows 10 alternative, I have produced no illustrations today.

But I did get to read the last 100 pages of the book.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story was the question about whether th diamond necklace was a genuine heirloom or paraphernalia. These are legal terms that Mr Trollope understood far more than I.did.

I gleaned enough from the book to establish the accuracy of Wkipedia’s comments on the subject:

‘In popular usage, an heirloom is something, perhaps an antique or some kind of jewelry, that has been passed down for generations through family members.

The term originated with the historical principle of an heirloom in English law, a chattel which by immemorial usage was regarded as annexed by inheritance to a family estate. Loom originally meant a tool. Such genuine heirlooms were almost unknown by the beginning of the twentieth century.[1]

In the English legal system, any owner of a genuine heirloom could dispose of it during his lifetime, but he could not bequeath it by will away from the estate. If the owner died intestate, it went to his heir-at-law, and if he devised the estate it went to the devisee. The word subsequently acquired a secondary meaning, applied to furniture, pictures, etc., vested in trustees to hold on trust for the person for the time being entitled to the possession of a settled house. Such things were more properly called settled chattels.[1] As of 1 January 1997, no further settled land can be created and the remaining pre-existing settlements have a declining importance in English law.[2]

An heirloom in the strict sense was made by family custom, not by settlement. A settled chattel could be sold under the direction of the court, and the money arising under such sale is capital money.[3] The court would only sanction such a sale, if it could be shown that it was to the benefit of all parties concerned and if the article proposed to be sold was of unique or historical character. The court had regard to the intention of the settlor and the wishes of the remainder men[1][4]’ 

In the book, the debate centred around the Eustace family’s contention that the diamonds were an heirloom, and the widow, Lizzie Eustace’s claim that they were paraphernalia, described by the on-line free legal dictionary as

In the English legal system, any owner of a genuine heirloom could dispose of it during his lifetime, but he could not bequeath it by will away from the estate. If the owner died intestate, it went to his heir-at-law, and if he devised the estate it went to the devisee. The word subsequently acquired a secondary meaning, applied to furniture, pictures, etc., vested in trustees to hold on trust for the person for the time being entitled to the possession of a settled house. Such things were more properly called settled chattels.[1] As of 1 January 1997, no further settled land can be created and the remaining pre-existing settlements have a declining importance in English law.[2]

‘An heirloom,  in the strict sense was made by family custom, not by settlement. A settled chattel could be sold under the direction of the court, and the money arising under such sale is capital money.[3] The court would only sanction such a sale, if it could be shown that it was to the benefit of all parties concerned and if the article proposed to be sold was of unique or historical character. The court had regard to the intention of the settlor and the wishes of the remainder men[1][4]’

The Free Legal Dictionary (https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/paraphernalia) describes paraphernalia as ‘the name given to all such things as a woman has a right to retain as her own property, after her husband’s death; they consist generally of her clothing, jewels, and ornaments suitable to her condition, which she used personally during his life.
     2. These, when not extravagant, she has a right to retain even against creditors; and, although in his lifetime the husband might have given them away, he cannot bequeath such ornaments and jewels by his will.’

This evening we dined on breaded chicken breasts served on a bed of onions, garlic, and peppers; with roast potatoes and mushrooms; ans spinach. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

Tending Livestock And Crops

Purple flowersPoppiesWriting three-quarters of a millennium ago, Geoffrey Chaucer, our earliest great poet, in his classic ‘Canterbury Tales’ displayed a talent for capturing characterisation with simple descriptions of clothing and habits.  Whether or not she was inspired by this writer, the modern P.D. James has this facility in abundance, as demonstrated by ‘A Certain Justice’ which I finished reading this morning.  Her descriptions of place are equally poetic and add enormously to our understanding of the natures of her subjects.  Within this elegant writing she weaves an intriguing and credible murder mystery.

Landscape from Eymet road

In a not wholly successful attempt to dislodge yesterday’s stubborn mud, I grated my shoes along the gravel footpaths leading out of Sigoules as I set off on this much brighter but still chilly morning to walk the La Briaude loop.  Apart from the rather raucus distant cawing of rooks, the birdsong was glorious, and the day fresh.

CattleUnlike the New Forest ponies, who refuse to be distracted from their grazing, the more inquisitive Dordogne cattle would often lift their heads and stare.

Stony track

BarleyTempted by a stony uphill track, I took a diversion, and was rewarded by a sight of burgeoning barley.  Through trees, this led to a road on which I turned left.  Miraculously enough, this led me to La Briaude.  I had discovered a wider loop that I will use in future.

Gardener (1)Walking on towards Sigoules, I heard a tender male voice.  Peering through the trees I saw the gentleman was addressing sweet nothings to his obviously well groomed donkey.  We exchanged greetings.  The man and I, not the ass.  Further on, another man was tending his garden.  Beyond a crop of bright yellow tulips, stretched rows of vegetables, at the end of which he tilled the stony soil.Gardener

The sometimes low and relaxed, sometimes more shrill and desperate cries of the as yet unmated woodpigeons drowned the cheerful chirruping of smaller birds as I set about sorting the sitting room.

Jackie will be pleased to learn that today’s Code Bar soup was yesterday’s veg one amplified by noodles.  There followed shredded pot-au-feu beef with a tangy tomato based sauce including little tomatoes and accompanied by half a hard-boiled egg on lettuce.  Not necessarily my favourite food, the main course of lasagne could have me converted.  Profiteroles completed the Italian theme.  Fred paid me the compliment of asking me the English word (strawberries) for the French fraises.  A group of English diners were having them, but I had them yesterday.

The Stepping Stone Community

Roger dropped Judith off for an early morning walk.  We turned right at the cemetery and took the left fork at La Briaude, weaving our way to Mescoules.  The landscape, largely seen from above, was enticing.  At one point Judith slipped into a field, presumably to avail herself of the facilities.  She may, possibly, have found it more convenient in Sigoules.  Then again, maybe not.

Looking down on some distant cattle, my companion told me they were Acquitaine blondes.  They blended in beautifully with the golden fields.  We found we both had a penchant for photographing tapestry landscapes.  A farm vehicle with a trailer clattered towards us at great speed.  As we took refuge on the grass verge, no way was it going to slow down.

We wondered whether a rabbit bounding across a farmyard had been an escapee from hutches we saw in a smallholding which looked entirely self sufficient.  It had a lovely garden, a pony, pig-pens, and tomatoes flourishing among vines across the road.  The owners possessed the second beagle we had disturbed on our rambling, both of us equally relieved that each dog was securely fenced in.  A roadside sign was slightly less scary than the one I’d seen yesterday.

Judith  had pointed out a sign to Mescoules on our previous walk.  To me it had seemed to lie in a totally different direction.  Chris and Frances would vouch for this since I’d managed to get us lost trying to lead them to the vivarium a couple of years ago.  Having walked through that village today, I was quite pleased that we were able to direct a car driver to it on our way back.  Since she hadn’t pronounced the final S, I speculated that she was from Northern France.

As usual, my friend was good company, and made what turned out to be a ninety minute walk seem much shorter.  Naturally we finished up with a drink at Le Code Bar whilst waiting for Roger to collect her.  Incidentally, the reggae night starts at 9.30 on 18th. August.  With 45 degrees on the garden thermometer I’m glad we went out early.

This afternoon I finished reading ‘Death in Holy Orders’ by P.D.James.  This is an excellent book which transcends the mere detective story, with its comprehensive understanding of human nature.  The action is set in a religious community.  Ordinands and guests are free to eat when and where they like, except for the evening meal, when all are expected to attend this ‘unifying celebration of community life’.  This reminded me of the early days of my friendship with Ann, Don’s late wife.

As an Area Manager of the inner city Social Services Department of Westminster, I was continually frustrated at the lack of provision for the care of older adolescents for whom we were responsible.  One of my own clients went to live in the establishment Ann was managing in Chelsea.  It had been her ambition to set up a community of her model for just the group of young people we could not adequately accommodate.  Through my visiting my client I realised that, in Ann, we had a gem who should be encouraged.  I therefore chaired a committee, assembled by Ann, which set up The Stepping Stone Community in Finsbury Park.  We rented three houses from a Housing Association; staffed it with suitable carers, and opened it to young people aged 16-plus in their last two years in care.  This was additional to my employed occupation.  The unique element was the ‘normal adult’, one attached to each house.  The idea was that these adults, all in work, were to provide a model for the young people.  Adults and adolescents alike each had a bedsit.  In exchange for their accommodation the adults were contracted to attend a house meal once a week.  They and the other residents took turns in producing the fare. This organisation thrived for more than twenty years in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.  Unfortunately, because of the growing  reluctance of Local Authorities to fund such agencies, we began to struggle financially.  For our last five years our treasurer and I kept us afloat with personal bank guarantees.  This was beginning to worry us.  We therefore approached another child care agency, The Thomas Coram Foundation, seeking a merger.  The Foundation had an infrastructure we couldn’t match, having benefitted from the legacy of a wealthy eighteenth century merchant.  This included many valuable works of art. They welcomed our suggestion.  I chaired the merger group, and eventually the long-established agency took over our project with a promise to honour its values.  It is greatly to Ann’s credit that members of all sections of Stepping Stone, last year, travelled to Bungay to attend her funeral, paying tribute to how she had changed their lives.

Today was completed with chicken and chips in the square, with Stella from Le Bar.  I was in the company of a Welsh family consisting of Emma, Phil, Ken, Ben and Kaylie, and baby Jessica.  They were staying in the house belonging to Val, who I had met watching the England/France football match earlier in the year.  She had told them they would find me in the bar.  I most definitely claim I wasn’t there, but David directed them to me.