In front of me sits an emerald coloured wine glass. Its tulip shaped bowl squats on a short stem, moulded to a slightly too small round base. Everything is just off centre and the texture of the glass is wavy and rough with bubbles. You could use it as a medieval wine goblet in a Morality play. Or as a chalice for an impromptu celebration of Communion.
I bought it in Church Street, Hereford, many years ago. Church Street is a narrow, picturesque street leading up to the cathedral. The sort of place that attracts visitors and tourists window shopping and picking up mementos of their visit to the city and the cathedral. There it was, with a selection of other pieces of glassware, on a table, in a shop window. A shop that sold not glassware, but oriental carpets. An elegant card explained how the glassware came to be on sale there.
The shop owner regularly visited the producers of the rugs he sold and bought the rugs directly from them. This included visiting producers in Afghanistan. In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and stayed there for ten years, before pulling out. When the tanks rolled in, they ploughed into a glass making factory that had been producing glass for 500 years and squashed it flat. The family who owned the glass works were known to the rug buyer and when he met up with them, he made them an offer. “I will be back in a year and I will buy whatever items you manage to make in that time.”
As promised, he went back in a year’s time. The glassmakers had gathered up all the pieces of broken glass, recycled them, and remade them. In total they had created 10,000 pieces. A kind of resurrection.