The Porcelain Lament.
porcelain A ceramic material used to make beautiful cups, jugs, plates etc.
lament to feel or express sorrow or regret – to feel sorry about something
bluebell a small blue flower
elite or élite referring to rich, famous or powerful people
dejected feeling very sad
shuffle to move slowly in a clumsy manner
smithereens many small pieces
This story is written as if the jug was a person. This is called ‘personification’.
‘Hello. My name is Joy. Joy the jug. Unfortunately, at the moment I am rather joy-less. I used to be beautiful. Well not so much beautiful, but attractive, nice to look at. I am just plain white, but have a lovely shape. A ‘classic figure’ is how I was described in the shop. I have never been of the elite, like my cousin Roberta the Royal Albert jug, but then she lives in the china cabinet and I live in the kitchen cupboard. I don’t mind that, the ones in the china cabinet don’t get used much, whereas I was on the dining table all the time. But now! Sigh! Well, times have changed.’
She sat dejected in the corner of the kitchen cupboard, her dirty handle sagging because she was so sad.
‘The worst part is the loss of self-esteem. It’s wonderful when you feel useful, wanted, good for something. They would use me for sauce, custard, gravy, cream, milk, all sorts of different things. I could smell and taste the food. I was part of the family at mealtimes, I could listen to the conversation, and I knew what was going on.’
Joy smiled as she thought of all the good times she had when she was used by the family every day.
‘I knew when little Annie ate a banana in the shop before Mum could pay for it. And I heard about the time when Linda stole an eraser from the shop and Mum took her back and made her apologize to the shop keeper. Linda really learned her lesson that day! I was there when each new baby came into the house, and when Adam started his business. It’s doing nicely, well it was when I was last on the table, but that was a long time ago now.’
Joy cried a few tears, which slid down her porcelain cheek. It left a mark as it dribbled down through the dust.
‘And now, I am no good for anything. When Mum was doing the dishes she hit me on the tap. She was very upset, and said some swear words. It really hurt me too. I was very sore. There was a big crack right from my top half way down to my base, and all along the handle. Mum said it would be dangerous to use me. I might break. I might even leak. And then she put me in the cupboard. And that was the end of my life!’
In the cupboard the piles of plates were listening to joy and felt very embarrassed. They knew Joy had been a bit miserable, but they hadn’t taken much notice really.
‘And then, I just sort of got moved further to the back of the cupboard. I haven’t seen the daylight for six months now. I am just shut away. Hidden. Unwanted. Forgotten. The only people who know I am here are the plates beside me, and they just ignore me. Do you know, I haven’t really spoken to anyone for about three months? Sometimes Mum pokes around in the cupboard, and I get all exited thinking maybe she will take me out. She did once, she looked at me, shook her head and put me further back in the cupboard.’
‘Well what do you want us to do?’ asked one of the plates. ‘We can’t get Mum to use you if you are broken. You really aren’t much use for anything are you? Mum can’t even put flowers in you!’
‘No, you are right,’ said Joy sadly.
She was quiet for a while, and then she said, ‘There is one thing you could do. Next time Mum puts you plates back in the cupboard after a meal, could you shuffle me forwards so I can see the light? So I can get closer to the edge and see out? Could you do that for me please?’
So during the next few days, as the plates were used and put back into the cupboard, they all shuffled a little bit and gradually got Joy to the front where she could see the family and feel some fresh air.
‘This is it!’ she said. ‘Time for my plan!’
As the dinner dishes were washed and put away Joy got right to the edge. She could see Mums hand coming in with more plates, and she managed to touch her hand, she got her handle caught in Mums fingers and threw herself over the edge of the shelf. Over the side she went. She closed her eyes as she went down, held her breath, and broke into smithereens on the tile floor.
OR . . .second ending.
Over the side she went. She closed her eyes, held her breath, and waited to be broken to smithereens on the tile floor.
‘No!’ yelled Mum, ‘no, ooooohhhhhh! . . .got it!’
Mum saw the jug falling, and caught it just before it landed on the floor.
‘Oh! I’ve hurt my hand on the floor,’ she said. ‘But I caught it just in time. Wow that was close! Didn’t want to break this jug. Today I bought some lovely silk bluebells. They are not real flowers, so I don’t need to put water in the jug. It doesn’t matter that the jug is broken. I’ll wash this dirty jug now, arrange the new flowers and put it in the lounge. It’ll look just right beside the television.’
Joy sighed. She was very happy. ‘Oh boy, I will be part of the family again!’
OR . . . Can you think of a different ending?
Questions for review:
- What was the jug’s name?
- Why was Joy sad?
- What kind of flowers were put in the jug?
- Can a jug really talk?
- What kind of story is this?
- What does it mean to feel dejected?
- What did Joy plan to do?
- Can you think of a different ending to the story?