Tuesday, 25 August 2015

My Magic Box

When I was 16, I had a seven-inch box.

Head of IT at school gave it to me. It was slightly larger than seven inches squared - designed, so I was told, to hold a consignment of seven-inch vinyl singles stacked either vertically or horizontally. As she'd gotten rid of her record player and vinyl collection, she didn't need the box any more, and decided to ask her students if they wanted it. My brain, running a thought process akin to "ZOMG! FREE STUFF!", screamed at me to say that I'd take it. I did.

I had no idea what to do with it.

I had nothing seven inches long to store in it. It was, I reasoned, a very handy box to have if you have a small amount of stuff. It even had a handle so one may transport said small amount of stuff. The problem, such as it was, manifested as my not actually being possessed of a small amount of stuff to transport.

And then I got a girlfriend.

I've never particularly liked transporting a lot of stuff and I failed to see the point in taking a whole backpack just to take a minimal amount of things for a weekend in Birmingham where I wouldn't be wearing many clothes anyway. Ritualistically, I began packing my box with the bare minimum of stuff I decided that I wanted to take with me - assuming one overnight stay - one change of T-shirt, one change of underwear and one pair of socks, plus my wallet, my phone, my keys, a book and a Discman (plus about four or five CDs, some of which may be James) - this often left quite a lot of space, considering how small it was.

After a couple of months I started adding condoms.

On Friday evenings I would power-walk back from school, say hi to my gran, dump my bag in my room, grab my box and run to the station - where I'd always see (but never talk to) the RS teacher that Lightsinthesky had a crush on. I'd get to Victoria Coach Station by 5pm, box in hand, without fail. And this continued for years.

My token black friend once remarked upon the fact that I'd been seen toting my little black box to the station one evening. He had assumed (not without good reason, I suppose) that I would be taking more things to my dirty weekend breaks, and I don't blame him - but it was more than enough for me, and I was very pleased with my resourcefulness and lucky find by the end.

Eventually, of course, I ended up carrying it everywhere, with more than a few people thinking it was a bomb and one more astute person assuming I was a DJ - "no, but I know DJs," was my diplomatic answer. It finally gave up the ghost years later, when the seam ripped on an escalator in Victoria Station and I ended up cradling it in my arms like it was a wounded animal... but I continued to use it to carry things, right through to the third year of university when I put my notebooks in it, with the help of liberal amounts of duct tape.

Since then I've never found such a good receptacle for just the right amount of things, and have had to cope with more conventional means like "bags" and "pockets". But my little box will always hold, along with clothes, condoms and chromatic entertainment, a special place in my heart.

As, considering, it faciliated rather a lot.

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