THANKS so much, everyone, for your good wishes. Seriously, it really does make a difference to know you are thinking of us. Tom felt a veritable wave of good karma when he sat down and read through your comments. We were both very cheered by them. Thanks!

I want to say thanks for something else too. I’ve been an admirer of Suzanne’s work for a while, particularly her wonderful creature series. She had some fabric made up recently of her designs via spoonflower. The fabric looks amazing! So when she proposed a swap — a creature-cushion for a bucketload of good British tea — I immediately jumped at the chance.

A parcel containing this arrived yesterday and made me very excited. Isn’t it fab? I’m really blown away by it. I feel I definitely got the better side of the deal. But then again, you really can’t argue with a good cup of tea.

Suzanne’s cushion now has pride of place on our sofa, and, perhaps appropriately, is doing a great job propping up the specimen that is Tom’s poor hand. I love Suzanne’s creatures even more now I can sit and stare at them. Never has an item of soft furnishings provoked so much thought for me! I’ve been sat there thinking about Suzanne’s design process, about the materials she uses and effects that she creates, as well as about the feel of her work, which says so much about natural processes, decay and preservation. It is spooky, it is poignant, and it is witty too. (Her new cross-section series also illustrate this perfectly). But some of the other cushion-thoughts have been personal, and rather banal, as illustrated by the following anecdote.

Tom has several supermarket rituals. These are generally designed to wind me up, and involve him behaving like Benny Hill in the fruit and veg section (eg, asking “could you do with one of these?” while holding a large butternut squash in a suggestive manner at crotch height). Another ritual focuses on the jars of seafood in the ‘speciality foods’ section. He well knows that the sight of pickled creatures can reduce me to foolish levels of sentimentality and exploits this by waggling the jars of little octopi in my face and shrieking “SAVE US!” in a plaintive squid-like voice.

(yes, I actually took my camera to the store today to photograph these poor beggars)

The ritual concludes with one of those stereotypical exchanges of couples in supermarkets: viz, woman rolls eyes and whapps man with handbag, or whatever else comes to hand. A few weeks ago, though, I noticed a different sort of exchange going on in front of the SAVE US! jars. A young lad had picked one up, and was staring at the pickled creatures with wide-eyed fascination.
“Look!” he said to his mum, “they’ve got their heads on and everything!

Suzanne’s creatures perhaps don’t provoke either of these reactions, but they do manage to be fascinating, while being rather melancholy too.

thanks Suzanne, I love the cushion!