All of us have random objects that seem to travel with us through life like silent companions.
Back in 1973, I left the South Pacific island of Rotuma with an armful of gifts. One of these was a fan made by a grandmother who lived in the same village as me - Motusa. It was made from palm leaf strands and for a little while I watched as she deftly wove the thing into shape. No doubt she was employing techniques that she had learnt from a previous generation.
As tourists never visited Rotuma in those far off days, palm fans were purely functional - for everyday use and not for sale to cruise passengers or passing beachcombers seeking paradise. As well as creating draughts of cool air, the fans were useful for batting away flies - from sleeping babies or from little foot wounds acquired on fishing expeditions to the coral reef.
Nowadays the fan sits on a picture shelf in our hallway. Most days I don't even see it but today I took it down and admired the simplicity of the design - testament to the craftsmanship of western Polynesia. The woman who made it must be long dead but a little part of her persists on the other side of the planet - here in the suburbs of one of England's great northern cities.
When I notice it I can recall the coconut palms fringing Mofmanu beach, the aroma of roasting copra, the blue Pacific surf crashing on the reef and those sweet village voices joined in harmony rising up to the rafters of the meeting house. It was long ago and far from here.