I’ve been thinking about the idea of a lachrymatory bottle


I’ve been thinking about the idea of a lachrymatory bottle for vaguely arty purposes; a lachrymatory being a vessel to collect tears otherwise known as a tear bottle.

The idea for these is that they are left in a coffin, filled with a mourner’s tears, although I should mentioned this is now highly compromised as a belief.  In my head, the bottle is ornate, possible cut glass, a mini version of a 1970’s decanter, but older and in this case you pass it on, so not the one that got left in the aforementioned coffin.

And before you think I’m fully sentimental I’d collect tears of all sorts.

Tears that you cry as it’s quite a nice feeling
Pretty much everytime that I watch the film Beaches.  Despite the fact that I know what’s going to happen, somewhere around the time of the last beach holiday, when Better Midler’s character says ‘I remember everything about you and I never forget’ and the other one says something like ‘I’m counting on it’ under her breath, hot tears are pouring down my face.  It’s probably around this time that they’re playing the Wind beneath my Wings.

Tears of Frustration
When I was about 7 or 8 I was a bit of a daily cryer.  I forget to take money for a souvenir on a school trip, I cry.  A kid is playing catapult with a pencil and puts a hole in page 1 of my sketchbook on animals with a careful drawing of an anteater, I cry. I come up with a pact that if I didn’t cry for three days then I would be magic. Third day, my sisters tease me, I cry.

Tears of Laughter
Charlotte and I were coming home on a bus and for some reason there was a kid on the bus who kept on saying ‘go to Dr Beverley and take a paracetomol’ to his friend.  This one still makes us laugh.  One other night my big sister had this story about someone called Milky.  This is really all I remember, that and the fact that Charlotte and I were in fits.

It’s at this point when I realise the flaw with this open-ended use of the lachrymatory.  For it to work, you’d have to carry it around all the time, which even I find taking the thing too far.  This is probably why when looking lachrymatories up on the web, most of these were stories of collecting tears of grief, and possibly fanciful accounts of people being paid to cry at funerals to fill the bottle.

And although I like the romance of a highly decorative object that sits in my palm, and has the faint aroma of dried tears, which I imagine to be a bit like pot pourri, it’s perhaps pushing it to imagine that this is any meaningful souvenir of a life lived.

The day that I forgot the money for the gallery shop I had a camera, which makes me wonder why I was upset about the money.  I still have photographs from that day.  The class sitting on the wall outside, and oddly when I look at these, I can still remember everyone’s first and last names.