I met up with my cousin (in-law) Amy yesterday who is one of those relatives you realise you love so much you really should see them more often than weddings and funerals allow. But what with careers and kids, I have probably only ever met Amy four times, but because I know her family and her history so well, it feels like she’s one of my oldest friends. And after yesterday, I think I love her even more.
Amy is the Hudson who has supported republishing The Seventh Season the most. She has been completely behind the project from the start and her enthusiasm for it is one of the reasons why, gulp, it’ll actually be in print again in just a few weeks’ time.
Amy told me a fabulous story yesterday about a childhood holiday where she met Kit. Her family were on holiday in Greece, she thinks it was in 1978, when they hired a car and drove for hours on some of the most dangerous roads she can remember to visit a mysterious cousin. Amy and her younger brother Dan got so hot on the plastic back seat that they arrived at Kit’s place in the foulest of moods – they just wanted to get back to the hotel and the pool.
However, Lydia had prepared a beautiful spread, and after lunch Kit announced that there was buried treasure in the garden. He said when he had bought the house it had come with a map that was illustrated with clues and riddles. He showed it to Amy and Dan who were instantly entranced and set off around the garden following the instructions on Kit’s extravagantly illustrated map.
After several hours in which the adults had been able to have an uninterrupted conversation, Amy and her brother ran up to the terrace where their parents were still eating crying ‘We’ve found it! We’ve found it!’
They had discovered a small wooden trunk that was too heavy for them to lift out of the ground by themselves, so Kit and Amy’s mum Virginia helped them dig it up. At this point, Amy and Dan were expected the trunk to be full of gold, or jewellery, or at least – for Dan – the full set of Top Trumps trading cards.
Kit made a big show of lifting the heavy trunk out of the hole and they all gathered round to see what was inside… no gold, no gems, just ‘a lump of stone’ (according to Amy).
That lump of stone, on closer inspection, was in the shape of a foot. ‘It must have come from a statue,’ Kit told them. ‘In fact,’ he said, ‘what’s this? It’s an inscription.’
At this point, Amy and Dan became a bit more interested in the lump of stone. Virginia, who could read Greek, slowly read out the inscription: PRAXITILES.
‘My word,’ cried Kit – somewhat theatrically – ‘a genuine Praxitiles foot? Why every museum in the world will want this.’
‘Is it very valuable?’ Amy asked.
‘It is invaluable, my dear,’ Kit replied (this was a disappointing and confusing answer for a seven year old).
Anyway, Amy had no idea who Praxitiles was, or any concept of how long ago the sculptor would have lived, but the fact that the adults were so excited about it sparked a lifelong interest in sculpture (Amy now teaches art).
Of course, Amy now realises that Kit had buried the foot with the sole intention of keeping the kids occupied, but she can’t be sure that it really wasn’t a genuine Praxitiles. And the more I get to know about Kit, the more it seems entirely fitting that he would have a valuable relic from the ancient world in his possession. Or may, he was just a bloody good teller of tales…