Hannah Beckerman Treasured Possessions | 451life

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Hannah Beckerman Treasured Possessions

I’m not, in truth, someone who’s generally that concerned with material possessions. Yes, I like living in a nice house and there being full bookshelves in almost every room and the walls being decorated with good art. But they’re all replaceable, money permitting. What makes up my trove of treasured possessions are things that genuinely couldn’t be replaced: those classic items of sentimental value.

Wooden jewellery box: My maternal grandfather, Ronnie, was a cabinet-maker. When he arrived to his first date with my grandmother, he presented her with this jewellery box he’d made. Ever since I first heard that story in my early childhood it seemed like the most romantic gesture ever. And after they’d both died, my mother gave it to me. It’s still full of my grandfather’s old watches, none of which work, but which I can’t bear to throw out.

Folders of letters and cards: This is, in fact, just one of twelve similar folders. My family are the kind of people who send cards to say thank-you for the thank-you card. And I’m the kind of person who keeps them all: from grandparents, my mum, siblings and now my husband.

Philip Roth’s American Pastoral: He’s my favourite all-time writer and I made a film with him for the BBC in 2003: spending three days working with your literary hero is about as good as work gets. He signed this copy and we’ve exchanged letters in the decade since, all of which I keep in this book.

Marcasite necklace: This belonged to my maternal grandmother, Vivi, yet another present from my grandfather. I loved it as a little girl, and she always let me wear it when my mum and I would go for Saturday lunch. I rarely have occasion to wear it now myself, but I often take it out of the box just to look at and remember all those happy hours dressing up in my grandmother’s jewellery.

Computer and hard drive: Perhaps not the most poetic of items, but they contain every photo I’ve taken for the past decade, including wedding and honeymoon pictures, all the travel photos from two years living abroad with my husband, and the 50GB of photos I took of our daughter (every day) during the first year of her life. It’s also home to everything I’ve ever written in my adult life too. If our house was burning down, it’s the single material possession I’d save.

Hannah Beckerman's novel The Dead Wife's Handbook is published by Penguin.