• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 07
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Mother and Child

A memory and a photograph and the memory of the photograph. My brother, now forty-seven, is a toddler in the photograph and he’s sitting in our mother’s lap. No, that’s wrong. He is sitting to the side of her, squashed in between her on his right and the narrow high side of the narrow chair on his left. Our mum has her arm around him and grasps the arm of the chair, almost in an unnatural pose. But photographs can do that. We know our moment is about to be frozen.


It’s taken in the house in Cumnock. The chairs were left behind or more likely dumped during the move to Ayr. Green vinyl backs and arms and brown seersucker material cushion. Two of them and the three-seater settee. In summer our backs stuck to the vinyl. This was what it was to be young and alive in the 1970s. In Ayr there was a new build house and a new curved right angle sofa and more comfortable chairs awaiting us.

In the photograph our mum and my brother are wrapped up warm, woollen jumpers on. Was the camera the camera my other brother got for Christmas that year?

Click. Click.

Took pictures of everything. The cube flashbulb that went off in an almighty flare of magnesium white light and singed the plastic of the cube that held the flash. The smell of metal and plastic and burn.



Mother and Child

Honestly did sound like a pop. Flash bang pop what a picture, what a picture, what a photograph. Wait. Wasn’t it flash bang wallop, what a picture? But in this photograph there is no flash. My bother and my mother are in natural light, though weak, watery, wintery light. Did my other brother take the picture?

Click. A Kodak.

Same year as the cassette player which was a present to all the family from Santa.

And was it he, my other brother, or our dad, or even me, who told our mum to lean forward, look, there, the arm of the chair, there’s a tear, a rip in the vinyl, a tear, a rip. Look, there. So just move your arm a little, put your hand over the look over the over the tear.