- Vol. 02
- Chapter 11
Image by Vestry House Museum
The Family ArchiveI remember the photo as a presence throughout my life – coming upon it on odd occasions when rummaging through the various plastic bags that the family archive has resided in (usually at the bottom of a wardrobe). Sometimes a Woolworths bag, or when that shredded into pieces a ‘Ladies Couture’ bag that had contained the very impressive fake fur jacket mum had once longed for and finally purchased. We never had pictures on display; the treasures were buried in this special place, that had it’s own smell – lavender sachets, little soap bars from collections received at Christmas, Dad’s Old Spice (later Brut, of course) aftershave. A set of medals, condolence cards and wedding invitations sit together along with 21st birthday keys and a ration book.
The reasons for looking were always serendipitous – sneaking into the room to hunt for hidden Easter Eggs or Christmas presents or later to borrow a bag from mum’s extensive collection. Or when Dad died; ending up laughing and crying after a mournful afternoon clearing out his clothes and bagging up for the charity shop. Stopping and tipping out the bag to come upon memories of holidays past, parties (so many parties!), the photo of him scoring a goal in which he is a tiny figure in the periphery – but of which he was so proud. An unforeseen reminiscence project that helped to break up the procession of grim tasks that always ensue after the activity of funeral arranging abates.
This particular photo is the subject of dispute – it might be any one of a number of distant relatives. Not an uncle or aunt, the shapes that they made in photos were always instantly recognisable to their siblings even if their faces were not visible. Even after many years, something about an arm or a tilt of the head was known and identified as ‘us’.