Sharing things

Gift edition: Part 2

December 15, 2021 The University of Edinburgh Season 5 Episode 9
Sharing things
Gift edition: Part 2
Show Notes Transcript

Our gift to you this Christmas is inspired by George and Tammy from episode 3 of our most recent season. We decided to reflect more on the idea of the perfect gift. What makes something memorable? Is it about the giver, the moment, or a perfect cocktail of everything? We asked this question to you our listeners, and you shared your thoughts.

Part two of this special gift edition features Elizabeth, Ash, Kate, Struan, Carolina, Finn, Mary, Ashank, Maire, Tianna and Thiu.

If you have a spare moment this Christmas, check out the Sharing things back catalogue and explore your community through other important objects.  

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  

Bells from Christmas Story by Alex MakeMusic from Pixabay.

Graphics from Freepix: Guitar - Designed by Freepik, Picture - Designed by pch.vector, Golf - Designed by vectorpouch, Dog - Designed by, Santa hat - Designed by Freepik,  Ipod Nano – Designed by Freepik. Also includes Ticket – Designed by BarelyDevi from Pixabay.

[Christmas bells]

[Theme music]

Kate  0:10  Christmas and the New Year is traditionally a time of celebration, but also of reflection. 2021 might not have been the return to normality that we hoped for, but as the year draws to a close, we're thankful for what was possible, and how, as a community we came together to better understand and support one another. Inspired by episode three of our most recent season, we decided to reflect more on the idea of the perfect gift. What makes something memorable? Is it about the giver, the moment or a perfect cocktail of everything? We asked this question to you our listeners, and you shared your thoughts. This is Elisabeth Feldstein, a 2019 Chemistry graduate and Co-founder of Augment Bionics.

Elisabeth  0:59  I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and moved to the UK seven years ago to begin my degree. From around the age of three years old until the age of fourteen, I was an avid ballet dancer. And for a long time during these years, I was convinced I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. And so my career and life almost turned out very differently to what it is today. As a little girl, my fascination and obsession with ballet continued to grow and one of my earliest and best memories during the holidays, is when my mom surprised me with the gift of tickets to see the Nutcracker, a very festive gift indeed. I remember watching the show for the first time and being so entranced by the dancers, the music, the pointe shoes, it was all captivating. As I watched, the dancers twirl and jump in the most graceful way. I fell in love with their beautiful costumes and I found myself hoping that one day, I would be the one on stage. Funnily enough, a few years later, when I was eight years old, my dreams came true. And I was able to have a small participation role in The Nutcracker. It was really exciting and such a highlight of my short dance career. When I was finally on stage, I thought back to when I'd first seen the show, and imagined all the other little girls who would be inspired to take up dance or continue dance.

Kate  2:34  This is Ash Gupta, History and Theory of Architecture graduate and Managing Partner at Gupta Smart Energy.

Ash  2:40  So I'm going to share a very special story, which began in a couple of months before Covid arrived on the scene. My wife Christine, decided that I should go and have a look at a cat show at Edinburgh Academy. So reluctantly, I went, I have been to a couple during our 40 year marriage. And very surprisingly, we encountered something called a Silver Tabby for the very first time. We fell in love with it and a breeder noticed, took me aside and said I don't have one, but this lady over here from Ayrshire has a queen that is expecting. So we went over-- to cut a long story short, we bought two. We bought a Silver Tabby kitten called Suzie Q and her little brother, who was the runt of the litter, and he was called Smokey Joe because he was a smoke. Suzie Q looks like a small Snow Leopard and Smokey Joe looks just like a little Jaguar. Why is this special? Well, just a few months after that, we were all pretty much locked up, locked away on lockdown, but these little fellows just were delightful. They lifted our hearts. They're so funny and they're also the most affectionate cats we've ever had. They talk, they play tricks, they have boxing matches, and we live next to woods on the edge of a golf course and they come out with us and they just do amazing things. So if I was to say, what is one of the nicest presents you've ever had, I've got to say, these Christmas Silver Tabbies and Smokes, which Christine bought on the back of the sale of a lovely painting to a super yacht captain, and if he hadn't done that, I don't think we would have been tempted because they weren't cheap. But it's the best Christmas present money could buy. I would thoroughly suggest that a pussy cat is the answer to happiness. Have a Merry Christmas and I hope you get something just as nice. 

Kate  5:02  This is Kate Brook, Director of Services in Development and Alumni.

Kate B  5:06  The most memorable, special gift I've ever received is a wonderful self portrait by an artist called Arthur Berry. During the mid 1990s, I worked in a gallery in Manchester. Each day I was surrounded by beautiful paintings created by Northern artists. I helped customers choose special works for their homes, wrap them up and sent them on their way. Arthur's work always stood out to me. I never imagined I'd be in the fortunate position to own one. I could not have been more surprised the day my husband presented me with this painting. We'd been living in London for a few years, it wasn't my birthday, Christmas or an anniversary. Just a normal day. My husband had been up to Manchester, and on a whim decided to pop into the gallery where I'd previously worked. He hadn't intended to really buy anything, he just wondered what might be on the walls. He decided to bring the painting home to me, but the funny thing was, it was actually too big to fit on the walls of the studio flat we were living in at the time. It would be several years before we were able to frame and find the perfect place for Arthur. During that time, he was carefully wrapped and moved from flat to flat with us until we were in the fortunate position to be in our current family home. He now has pride of place in our living room, watches over our family life. He reminds me of a time when I was just starting out in my career, meeting so many interesting people and exploring the world and looking forward to finding my own way. It makes me smile every time I look at this picture, and I still can't believe we own it.

Kate  6:53  This is Struan Loughlin, a 2020 Physiology graduate, and a current PhD student at the University of St. Andrews.

Struan  7:03  My special gift is unsurprisingly a bottle of whisky. It was a gift from my mum and dad for my 20th birthday. It comes from the Ardbeg distillery, which is based on Islay. The bottle of whisky itself is a committee release from Ardbeg, it's Grooves. It's one they do-- or they do a committee release every year as part of the whisky festival on Islay. But what makes this a special gift is the fact that Jackie Thomson who is the manager for the visitor centre and the distillery and Mickey Heads, who was the head distiller at the time, both signed off the bottle and put well wishes on for my birthday, which was lovely in a lot of different ways. Not only was it nice just to have that message from people that I've been visiting, essentially since I was about two years old, but the fact that my parents had gone through the effort to get those people to sign off on the bottle and give it a nice message, really meant a lot. So whilst it's my favourite whisky, I don't think I'll be touching it anytime soon. I think it will sit proudly on a shelf as a memento, hopefully for generations to come and hopefully I don't have a kid that necks the thing, but that's beside the point [laughs]. So that's my special gift. Thank you.

Kate  8:35  This is Carolina Araujo, Economics and Politics graduate.

Carolina  8:41  I would like to share with you two of the most significant gifts I ever got. The first one was my iPod Nano when I was around 12 or 13. It was gifted by my parents on Christmas, actually. And it was this little green thing with a screen like, maybe an inch. And it might seem really insignificant now that we have iPhones and all these things, but at that point, it was like the most modern bit of technology you could get. Yeah, I know. But it was really cool and interesting and it made me feel really grown up at that stage of my life. I still have it, it doesn't work anymore, but I still have it. And I took it with me on a lot of trips and a lot of different experiences during my high school years and is just a piece of great memories. And I really, really treasure it. My second gift is actually some plane tickets to Belfast I got on my birthday during the beginning of my fourth year in university. They were gifted by someone really special to me and it was a really nice detail because during my whole uni experience I talked about how much I wanted to visit every single capital city from the UK. And until that point, the only one-- only one missing was Belfast. However, due to like the stress over dissertation and looking for jobs and looking for a flat for fourth year, I couldn't find the time to actually buy the tickets and fly out. And then he came for my birthday and just gifted the tickets for us to go on a weekend to Belfast and it was amazing. It's one of the trips I treasure the most from my uni years. We visit the city, the Giant's Causeway. It was a really cool experience, but it also taught me that trips don't need to be planned to the T. And sometimes it's always good to just explore the city and walk around. And that's why it's one of my most treasured gifts, with all the pictures we took on that trip.

Kate  11:08  This is Finn Oldfield, a 2020 Philosophy and Politics graduate.

Finn  11:15  I would have to say the best gift I've ever been given was a trip to Capri with my mum and dad. We were suddenly reeling from the death of my nan, who was a really great friend to me, as well as being a family member. And it was sort of a reward and-- you know, for getting through my levels and that sort of life event. And we flew out the day after the Brexit result as well, so we were doubly reeling [laughs]. You know, it was an experience that I never thought I'd have. I remember when we got there, we were apologising to all the waiters, because obviously, they were Italian waiters and we felt bad that we just left the EU and we were like, 'we apologise, we-- you know, we didn't vote for it'. But they were-- were, you know, joking along and stuff [laughs] and it was fine in the end. But yeah, Capri itself I was always hooked by the stories of the writers, artists and aristocrats who holidayed there. And I was so made up when I found out we were going. It's called the island of love. Love has still come, armed with all their credit cards. I've read about it online. Yeah. And it was like a Great Gatsby moment for me. I was dazzled by the decadence, history and luxury of it all crammed into one tiny Italian island. We saw Vesuvius, we were nearly kidnapped in Naples when we got into what we thought was an Uber, but on reflection it was definitely just some guy with a car [laughs]. So I remember hanging off the back of this like go kart thing, hanging onto our luggage as we ascended what felt like a vertical climb to the top of the island where our AirBnB villa was and when we got there, we all stupidly worn jeans, and definitely weren't prepared for 30 degree heat that we encountered. And, yeah, and I was stopped in my tracks by the real lemon and orange trees that line the paths to our villa, real citrus fruit on trees, I just found that to be amazing. You know, that really cemented it. I was like, this is a real place, but it's so magical. But yeah, I'll be forever grateful for that gift from my mum and dad. And we always still talk about it with fond memories today.

Kate  13:26  This is Mary Chamberlain, Politics graduate, historian and novelist.

Mary  13:33  My special, favourite gift is this clock. It was made around 1935 by the German clockmakers, Kienzle and was designed by Heinrich Muller, who may or may not have been trained at the Bauerhaus, but was certainly inspired by it. There's nothing particularly unique about the clock as the factory churned them out by the hundreds. The clock sat on my parents mantelpiece, all through my childhood. Then, it was in working order, but at some point, it ceased working. And at some point years later, it was replaced by a cheap and cheerful imitation carriage clock, which were much in fashion at the time and this clock was put away. Some years before my father died, he asked if I would like the clock, and handed it to me as a gift. It didn't come wrapped in fancy paper with ribbons and bows. Nor was there any great 'ooh ahh' moment of surprise when I opened it. As I remember, it came wrapped in a towel for its own protection. But there's two reasons why this gift is so special. The first is that it came from my father, and for that reason is much cherished. But the second reason is almost as special for me, as it embodies a particular moment in history. My father, who was in the RAF during the war, bought it in Berlin in 1945. It was part of the black market, which thrived there at the end of the war as the currency went into meltdown and basic necessities were in short supply. Berlin was starving and Berliners resorted to selling off their possessions in order to survive. The clock also features in my latest novel, The Forgotten, which is set in Berlin at the end of the war. And although its original provenance is perhaps tainted, it's a direct link with that war and history, and my father's engagement with that history. And it's the one gift I think I'd rescue from a fire, partly because of how I acquired it, partly because of how my father acquired it and partly because in many ways, it has real historical meaning. So Happy Christmas, everyone.

Kate  16:01  This is Ashank Chandra, English Language graduate and teacher.

Ashank  16:08  The present that I want to talk about is a Polaroid camera that I received from my lovely girlfriend, last year on Christmas, of the 2020. Christmas, of course, for me is all about, you know, celebrating having amazing food, spending brilliant time with family and loved ones, friends, and of course, presents. Now, when we think about presents, or when I think about presents, it's all about how well you know the person how much thought you have put in the present and how much hard work actually did you put in, in in wrapping the present. So of course, I still remember very clearly when we were sitting on the sort of-- the dining table and waiting for the food to arrive. We were still talking about and teasing each other about you know, our childhood memories and my girlfriend she-- she said to me, that you will be-- will be happily surprised with the present that she's got for me this time. And I was more than curious to unwrap the present and take a look at what's inside and when I did actually open the present, I was more than just happily surprised. Because I've been-- I've been meaning to sort of buy a Polaroid camera for-- for a very long time. I'm someone who loves to taking pictures. And every time I go on a small little vacation, or every time I think that this is a moment for me to capture it, I have the Polaroid camera with me. And I make sure that I sort of take pictures with it and of course put the date and the time and maybe the signature of a person who was in it. It's a lovely present, it's very thoughtful. I am-- as I'm talking I can feel the emotion sort of developing and it is still extremely emotional thinking about it. As to how much thought my girlfriend did put in the present. And yeah, by the end of the day, I love her. It was all about Christmas and my Polaroid camera. So yeah, everyone have a great Christmas, enjoy yourselves.

Kate  18:31  This is Máire Cox, Web and Communications Manager in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Máire  18:39  The best Christmas gift I ever got-- I'm sitting on it now actually-- was a chair. It's a replica of a Marcel Breuer B34 chair. And it was given to me by my boyfriend at the time, now my husband, many years ago, just before the millennium, in fact, that Christmas and I love the chair. I'd always coveted the chair, loved the design, but more than that, the thing that made it so special was that he dragged it on his back all the way home from the furniture shop. It was quite a walk. And yeah, I think it was probably the most romantic thing he's ever done. So yeah, loved it, then loved it now. Happy Christmas everyone.

Kate  19:23  This is Tianna Mobley. Study Abroad graduate and Public History Fellow at the White House Historical Association.

Tianna  19:36  One of the best gifts I've ever been given is a souvenir plate with a picture of the Edinburgh Castle. The plate has a gold rim and the colours are super vibrant. This plate was given to me by my sister Terica as a graduation gift. This gift meant so much to me for several reasons. I graduated from Georgetown University in May 2020. Because this was during the pandemic, I did not expect to have a proper graduation party. Terica, who I was living with at the time, planned and organised a surprise virtual graduation party for me. She invited all of my closest family and friends to attend on Zoom. It was so lovely being able to see everyone after months of uncertainty and restricted travel, even though it was in a virtual context. My sister knew just how much I loved my time at both universities, Georgetown and the University of Edinburgh where I studied abroad. And so she gifted me several items relating to each. But for some reason, of all of the gifts, the souvenir plate really made my heart swell. I'd never gotten one before and she chose one that I would have bought for myself. My favourite colours are green and gold, and for the plate to have that colour combination. I think that's definitely part of why I love it so much. And it shows how much she clearly knows me. Now that I have my own apartment, I made sure to carefully display it in a cabinet, placing it somewhere it cannot be easily knocked over so that I can treasure it forever.

Kate  21:29  This is Thiu Elias, a PhD student in World Christianity.

Thiu  21:35  The best gift that I've ever received has to be definitely the gift of our two months old son, two months at this point in December. His name is Ringswun. In fact, his name literally means a gift of life in the Rongmei language. So I'm a Christian and I regard this as a gift from God. It has been quite an experience witnessing this new guy, his new life, new person, new personhood, growing and forming every single day. It's such a gift that we get to be a part of this. Of course, as I think about new life, as I think about gifts and all of that wonderful stuff. I'm also reminded to value the gift of life, especially when contrasted against bad news, tragic news that we hear from around the world everyday on a-- on a daily basis. People from whom the gift of life has been snatched away from them, both metaphorically and even literally, right. And with all that's going on around the world, in the back of my-- of my mind, I must say that I'm truly grateful for the gift and the opportunity to share in the new life of Ringswun. And perhaps in response as well to pray and to anticipate that we can play our roles in living for life, for the sake of others in this world as well.

[Christmas bells]

Kate  23:02  

Thank you for listening. Sharing things will return in 2022, so subscribe now and stick with us. If you can't wait until then, check out the Sharing things back catalogue and explore your community through other important objects. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

[Theme music]

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