White Right Hand

On my mantelpiece there stands a glossy white right hand with an inexpertly-repaired break in its little finger. I’m not sure what it’s made of. Fibreglass, perhaps: it’s quite lightweight. Within its hollow wrist is a metal piece where it’s meant to be attached to a matching arm. It belonged to a mannequin, the remainder of which stands in my study/office.

Its working life had been spent in the Herbert Lewis department store in Chepstow. Having traded for some 140 years, the shop closed for good in 2018. I’d only seldom shopped there - now & then I’d pick up something from their kitchenware department - but I was sorry to see it go. As if to stress the finality of their closing down sale, not only was the stock all marked down, but certain of their fixtures & fittings bore price-tags too, the mannequins included. Of those that remained, the one that seemed in the best shape set me back about £30.

It’s a female mannequin with a featureless face. A metal bar jutting up from its oval glass base into its right leg holds it upright. Not only was the right hand damaged, but the corresponding wrist-joint was missing, with the hand merely taped to the end of its arm. Removing the tape, I merely detached the hand. I’d imagined the mannequin might serve as a quirky piece of decor; a conversation-piece. On taking it home, however, and re-assembling it, I felt a rush of buyer’s remorse. It just looked creepy and out of place.

Up into a corner of my study it went, where it still stands now, dressed in a long white shirt and adorned with a Venetian mask. It’s somewhere to put all the neckties I no longer wear: a cautionary example of a misjudged impulse-buy.