Tin TinAt a dinner table this evening we were talking about the importance of lists, but in a very specific context. Another guest had, like me, recently become an ‘orphan’ (that is, his sole surviving parent had passed away) and he had had to empty out the house and sort through his parents’ belongings. The value or significance of many of the objects was obvious or easy to establish – furniture, paintings, books. But there were others – photographs with unidentified people, for example – that would forever remain a mystery. I recounted that my sole surviving maternal aunt has started to draw up lists of objects and belongings of significance so as to help her children once she has passed away. Following her example, and with an attic full of objects inherited from my late parents, I have started to do something similar, indicating to my children what they might like to hold onto (and why) and what I felt obliged to hold onto but they can safely chuck away, if they wish. We segued onto objects with unexpected value – first editions of modern literature being a good example. And then the (Belgian) friend beside me told a little story. Her parents were in the habit of renting a summer villa in Le Coq. One summer, when she was eight years old, the villa next door was rented by a certain Georges Prosper Remi, better known as Hergé. Remi was invited to their villa when the family celebrated my friend’s ninth birthday. As a present, he gave her a complete set of Christmas greetings cards, each signed by the artist, and each featuring Tin Tin and Milou (Snowy). A few years later, the friend decided that it would be quite a novelty to send her friends Tin Tin and Milou Christmas cards, and so she sent them all off. Today, that complete, signed set would be worth a lot of money.