You know what brings joy to life, a smile to the face, and warmth to the soul? Yes, the breeze on a hot summer day, no doubt. And the laughter of an innocent child, true. Okay, you can have your hug from a loved one as well. But besides all these delightful things, do you know what else brings joy to life?
Now, I appreciate the nonmaterial things, I do. Just last night I spent a good 15 seconds Walking Like An Egyptian while declaiming “Bahaha!” because my husband failed to notice a large bunch of daffodils on the table.
The incident itself is a long, irrelevant story, but my point is this: Most people would agree that “the inability to observe bright yellow clustered objects in one’s proximate environment” is a fairly nonmaterial motivation for a dance attack. And as far as intervals of 15 seconds are concerned, this totally was the apotheosis.
So, having established that it is possible to warm my soul with intangible pleasures, we can now move on to the fun stuff. I feel a show-off coming on.
Beauty is Only Skin Deep
The way I see it, if beauty is only skin deep, you might as well take good care of your skin. My mother, who just celebrated her 60th, yet looks about 35, has always been a massive proponent of skin-care. We followed the Eleven Commandments at home religiously, the eleventh being “Thou shalt always use sunscreen. Yes, even if thou just goeth out to buy Goldspot.”
I carry on her skincare crusade to an extent. Having recently discovered that you can buy cosmetic-grade ingredients online, I decided that what I needed most in life was a spray-on moisturiser. It had to be spray-on, or else there was no point. PSSHHT You Are Now Moisturised, that sort of thing.
A bit of research later, I decided on a blend of
- fractionated coconut oil – coconut oil from which some fatty acids have been removed, leaving it lighter and less sticky
- Vitamin E – an antioxidant that’s jolly good for the skin
- fragrance, and
- cyclomethicone – a silicone that evaporates after helping the oil and perfume spread easily on the skin.
The manufacturing process involved pouring stuff into a bottle, and giving it a shake. Behold!
I suppose the packaging doesn’t exactly scream feminine elegance, but I can assure you it sprays on and moisturises like a dream. PSSSSHHT.
Don’t Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight
My second bit of material satisfaction harks back to George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series of novels. In them, he mentions the magical alloy, Valyrian Steel. The secrets of its smithing are lost to time, forgotten since the doom of Valyria. Blood has not only been spilt by blades made from Valyrian steel, but also for them. They are treasured, they are rare.
There’s a real world parallel to this magical metal – damascus steel. Just like its fictional counterpart, the original methods of manufacture remain unknown, and modern processes have never quite been able to replicate it. Nonetheless, the modern approximation is beautiful – ripples of light and shadow flow through the metal as it catches the light. It is Valyrian steel come to life. Remember that line from Ned Stark?
“If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you can not do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”
Then he unsheathes his greatsword, Ice – as wide across as a man’s hand, made of the finest Valyrian steel, the blade spellforged and dark as smoke – and beheads the man. It’s a noble, powerful moment. Nothing holds an edge like Valyrian steel.
And I now own a bit of its cold, exquisite beauty.
It sits in the palm like it belongs there. Like a veil on a blushing bride. Like the touch of a mother on her child’s cheek. Like death in the hands of Lord Eddard of House Stark.
Look at it up close. See the light undulate across it. Sixty five layers of steel painstakingly folded and refolded till you get a honed edge that could slice a thought
I mostly use it to chop onions.