I was 6 and I had a toy owl. It had a textured tummy which was created by short, tufty, speckled fur which settled at irregular angles. I took the lifelike owl with its well defined claws made of orange felt, top stitched with heavy thread (it was a quality toy) to school. I can’t remember why. Perhaps it fitted a theme we were doing. The teacher took a shine to the owl and decided that it could live on top of a very tall cupboard and look over us. I think she thought I would like this. I did at first. I liked the attention I got. But I began to feel sad about the owl staying there for so long. I think it was months.It felt like I had made a terrible mistake. I would often look at it when I should have been working and wanted to take it home but couldn’t bring myself to ask. I eventually asked for it back. I remember the teacher reluctantly handing it down to me. I don’t have it any more.
My sister made a clay owl at school. She must have been about 14, I was 4. It was very textured, almost dangerously sharp with uneven eye sockets. It was 1970s beige and highly glossed. The existence of this owl itself is not what is memorable, but how it was later used.
Later on, around 1986 (I was about 13) We had an old black and white TV, no remote and because the knob to change channel was broken it was stuck on BBC2. One of the eye sockets of the owl (I can’t remember which one) fitted over the metal rod that stuck out of the TV. With careful placement and luck the owl eye socket could change the channel on the TV.
My father used to call me a little shirt button, usually when I wanted to do something I was not old enough to do. He was a coat button I think.
I remember my mother’s tin of buttons and as a small child I would empty it and organise the buttons. They were often organised according to size and colour. Some were tiny mother of pearl shell and delicate and some were big and robust covered in thick leather. A particular favourite was a clear disc which had flecks of silver like a confetti, no holes but a small shank on the back.