Alice Munro and The Diamond Earrings


pic: Peter Morrison AP Photos

pic: Peter Morrison AP Photos

Some time ago in Dubai, Himself bought me a pair of diamond earrings.  Simple studs which – like the eyes of the Yellow Rose of Texas ‘sparkled like the dew.’ I put ‘em on and hardly wore any others for the past 15 years.  However, at the start of the summer, preparing for swimming season in our French Alpine lake and on holidays in salty seas from the Mediterranean and the far North Atlantic off the Canadian Maritimes, I decided to put the ubiquitous sparklers away and wear and enjoy the carefree colourful fun jewellery of the season.


En route between bathroom and jewellery box in bedroom when I was on my way out somewhere, the diamond earrings got put on top of a bookcase on the upstairs landing.  I thought I heard a pin drop and felt it was an earring falling on the floor, but a rudimentary scan and a hand scooped under the bookcase dredged up nothing but the usual flotsam, jetsam and general detritus that finds its way around the feet of furniture.  I checked the jewellery box and saw a twinkle, so I ran out the door and forgot about the studs.


Time passed, summer scorched, visitors came and went, many a time and oft I traipsed past the bookcase carrying cases for holiday trips; half-finished coffee cups made rings on its surface.  I (semi) regularly vacuumed and cleaned the upstairs floors, dusted the bookcase, even measured it for possible remodelling.   Meanwhile, I was wearing all kinds of everything in my three earlobe piercings; steel, brass and base metal, enamel, Bakelite, plastic, silver and gold, turquoise and aquamarine, emeralds and moonstones, jade and jasper, garnet, lapis, opal, coral, quartz and tigers-eye, sea glass and sapphire and caribou antler, jet and pearl. Then one day recently, I got a kinda hankering for the classy ease of the diamonds.


There was only one stud in the box.


In the past weeks I have pondered this, felt a bit désole but mostly cross with myself for not keeping my resolve always to check the innards of the Dyson’s cylinder before binning its contents, always to heed when I hear over the vacuum’s whoosh, a little ‘ping’ hit the sides of the dust bowl signalling a substance other than dust bunnies.  I sighed for lost possessions, but mostly for fear of telling Himself I’d lost a diamond. I even pondered a sneaky dishonest cowardly plan to get a zircon fitted in a similar gold claw setting.  I said nothing to no one and suffered the gnaw.


Yesterday on the announcement that Alice Munro had won the Nobel Prize for Literature,   daughter Lucy mailed that she was going to renew her acquaintance with the Laureate’s works. As I have many books written by women called Alice….Walker, Hoffman, Munro and Toklas…..and tend to mix them up (I’m thinking of re-naming our local reading group ‘ABC – the Alzheimers Book Club’) I went to find what Munros I owned. I pulled out ‘The Beggar’s Maid’, ‘Lives of Girls and Women’ ‘The Love of a Good Woman’ and ‘Open Secrets’ and in clearing the space, the tops of the tomes on the shelf below were revealed.  There, its post snugly held by the hard-bound pages of Jocasta Innes’ “Trade Secrets” – a book on decorative paint finishes – subtly shone a little pin point of light.


Thank you Alice Munro, thank you Lucy, for finding my tiny faceted metastable allotrope of carbon. Because of you, I am freed from a (First World) sense of loss, guilt and regret and doings designed to decieve and am restored to my quotidian state of ataraxia.


Isabel Healy

Isabel Healy

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    Aha! So that’s where my copy of ‘Trade Secrets’ went ! Have been trying for years to remember who borrowed it. Gotcha!

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