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Blog 84 - Black Pearls

Having thumbed through my little book on how to tie a scarf, I am wearing my Yves Saint Laurent in the Ascot style. Quite fitting as it is Ascot Week. Actually, my scarf book is American and describes this style as Surrey but I know it is defined as Ascot elsewhere. I certainly owned it at the time when we would attend Ascot, Henley and Wimbledon during these heady summer days of June and July. A little different this year with horse racing, football and maybe some kind of tennis tournament without cheering crowds.

I have told you about Yves Saint Laurent and his Blue Garden elsewhere in one of my blogs which led to several readers telling me of their experiences in Marrakesh, one dining in the same restaurant as him and his boyfriend, and another describing the peace of his garden. My scarf today is white, grey, brown and black, basically stripes arranged in squares but with the surprise of a tiny bit of caramel background to his signature name. It’s a grey heavy day with thunder and rain forecast so my scarf needs lifting with something lustrous......what better than my Tahitian black pearls.

On my first visit to Tahiti, I was given a necklet with one single pearl by my husband. We bought it from a jeweller. I regretted I had not accepted something grander, so on my second visit, this time as a widow, I expressed my wish to my local host family. What an unusual shopping experience followed. They knew a black pearl diver who lived near their restaurant on the lagoon. The diver’s wife and mother had a stall in the main market hall in Papeete selling the jewellery they made, but we were going to the source, their home in the countryside. How different from the cultivated Blue Garden in Morocco. We walked down a long path amidst the tropical greenery and came to a humble dwelling. We were expected. An old dressing table with a mottled mirror was sitting in the middle of the jungle with an array of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings all made from the prized black pearls. An odd assortment of old chairs was set out. I was sweating. The midday sun and all this Aladdin’s treasure of every shade of silver black with hints of purple, pink, blue and green gleaming from the lustre was overwhelming. Finally, my choice was made, a single strand necklace, earrings and a single pearl for each of my family. The transaction was to be cash, so we agreed we would return the next day after I raised the money at a bank with a credit card. For whatever reason, my card was refused, so I had to ask my host to cancel my purchase. I was disappointed, but after all it was a luxury and I had the near experience of jungle shopping.

I wept when my host handed me the package the following day. He had bought it for me and was not worried that I might never repay him if my plane went down on my return journey. When his wife then produced pearl bracelets made by the women in her church to raise funds to send young people to a conference in Australia, I just about rustled up enough money to buy the one I am wearing today. It is made from imperfect pearls, but somehow I value that all the more. I certainly know they are not fake.

My plane got me safely home, I repaid my debt, and I hope the grandchildren treasure their pearls.

I will now loosen my scarf a little as I may get overheated watching the Gold Cup race from Ascot. Just about time for a Pimms.

Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Blog 84.

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