I collect specific memorabilia. Plural. I say this with satisfaction, because when I unzipped the little front ticket pocket of my handbag and showed off my first piece of movie memorabilia – the business card of a vampire (no really) – my husband pointed out that, technically, this isolated object was my ‘memorabilium’. Stinker.
I have an eclectic collection of theatre and film memorabilia. There are programmes, reviews, scripts, costumes, props, posters, DVDs. It’s utterly worthless, yet it has a very special power. My collection allows me to time travel.
Each piece is from a production in which I’ve acted. I’m a full-time granny now and all my dramas are domestic, but I only have to select a piece from my collection and I’m back there. Back on the stage at the Key Theatre in Peterborough. Back on a tour bus in Germany. Back at an outdoor production at Flag Fen Bronze Age Excavation. Back on a mock-up jumbo jet in Austria. Back in a limousine heading for the yacht club in Plymouth. Back in a flea pit theatre in Highgate. And my pilot light turns up just a little.
I studied drama at teacher’s college, then married two weeks after graduation. My husband’s career took us all over the world, so I relinquished acting and landed the role of full-time mum.
When my kids were grown, the acting window opened again and I soared through it. Pride of place in my collection is my Equity card, earned through the rigours of touring. Build set. Act. Strike set. Repeat every three days, for months. My collection even contains my work gloves. They’re stained with blood, sweat and tears.
Life has clipped my wings again, which is why I treasure my collection. In my marriage, I’ve moved house 13 times across three continents. Each move has necessitated a clearance. I’ll never clear out my collection. Someone else can do that after the curtain falls on my life. Whoever opens the box of my collection might just catch a flicker of light emanating from it.
It will be limelight.