Friday, 30 September 2011

Sepia Saturday: A Question of Balance

This week I was determined to stay on theme, but in the event, this was as close as I could get.


The grass is not an ideal playing surface for polo and, judging by the laundry, resembling the aftermath of a bodiless lynching, I don't think our neighbours counted a glamour puss in their number.

So it's just little me, astride my first two-wheeler, safe within the confines of an allotted plot, fenced with hazel hurdles presumably made by my grandfather. Out of view, is the caravan I shared with my parents. I have vague recollections of it, but in the absence of a photograph, you can assume it looked similar to the one in the background - behind the laundry.

This was stop-gap accommodation for us. The post-war programme for the building of council homes must have started in the large towns and cities and spread outwards, eventually reaching the fringes of rural England sometime in the early to mid 50s. We didn't know it when this picture was taken, but such a home had our name on it, and that was still at the planning stage.

As I've suggested, this 'toddling' period of my life is not easy to recall. There is one memorable occasion however, when I was introduced to a refrigerator by a lady who lived in a house/bungalow of bricks and mortar, next to or nearby the caravan site. On a warm and muggy day, she offered me something sweet tasting, chilled or frozen, from what I regarded to be an ordinary cupboard, weakly lit from the inside. The precise item is lost to time, but that chilly surprise remains to this day.

Looking closely at my chubby face, you can probably detect a degree of apprehension in my expression. Not too surprising, cameras can have that effect on little ones. For me, it's more poignant. A snap of registered uncertainty. A small boy wondering, but not beyond the event. His life compiled of brief and, largely forgettable, episodes, yet learning how to keep his balance on the fringes of events that would turn his world upside down, when the stabilisers would come off for good.

22 comments:

  1. It must have been difficult to ride on the grass - or perhaps you were just posing for the photo there. Very interesting account of post-war housing and the mysterious magic of the refrigerator. I am also fascinated by the fence...willow?

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  2. That bike is so little and cute, but it must have been hard to ride it around there. The first time I tried to ride a bike, I fell and broke my arm--and that was on a sidewalk with training wheels.

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  3. Very nicely put Martin, the apprehension does indeed show, but there’s curiosity too. The refrigerator was the wonder of the 60s. I remember being fascinated bu the hum ours made during the night; a new noise to add to the symphony of sounds the house made when I was tucked up in bed.

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  4. I never thought of the refrigerator as being a wonder of the 60s. Maybe because I grew up in Detroit. I do vaguely remember an ice box at my uncles summer cottage in the 1950s. You had such cute, sturdy legs for a melancoly toddler.

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  5. I so enjoy reading about things going on in the rest of the world at the same time we were experiencing them. Yes I too remember an icebox. The iceman brought a block of ice and dropped it into the top of the box and the food was down below. Many years ago. Wow, what memories SS can bring up.

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  6. Balance and harmony in life. I think that's what we all really are striving for. Me, I then to forget so thanks for this post.

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  7. I find these old snapshots so important in piecing together those fragments of memories, half remembered things our parents told us, and other miscellaneous snippets into that very important background to who we are. Those cars seems a bit old-fashioned for the 1960s.

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  8. I enjoy the way you weave memoir and philosophy in your prose.

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  9. Like QMM stated: SS does surely bring up memories from the past. I remember we had a fairly large yard, Dad insisted on having it fenced in, I guess because good fences made good neighbours....I also remember before we got electricity, we put our perishables in a hole dug in the backyard in warm weather.

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  10. Being of a similar age we share the same backgrounds (not background mark you, but backgrounds) The pictures of us at similar ages have similar background details - the same cars, the same clothes, the same visual economic and social history.

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  11. wonderful image and poignant memories

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  12. I never had a two-wheeler at that age. My pals and I terrorised the village on our three wheeler bikes in the 1940s and in the late 50s we moved into a prefab. Neither my wife's family or mine ever had a fridge; we had one in a flat in Wolverhampton in the 1960s. These days it's fridges and freezers to. We still hand our washing outside though.
    Your photo has certainly sparked some memories this week.

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  13. Thank you for this insight into this time in Britain. We (I) take so much for granted in our lives now. (I love "aftermath of a bodiless lynching"!)

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  14. Thank you all, for your super comments. By the way, Christine H, the hurdles were made of split hazel.

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  15. Beautifully written, and gorgeous wee you.
    I think so many of us would have felt apprehension at that age if we could have known what our lives would hold once our 'stabilisers' were removed.

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  16. I really enjoyed getting some insight into post WWII England. Sepia Saturday always evokes memories but your entry transported me across the ocean and back in time! Thanks for the memories!

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  17. Great photo and post. One could imagine those hurdles still up today, things like that are always practical.

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  18. Lovely pic. It's normal to have no recollections from that young age. I didn't know there was a post-war programme for the building of council homes in the UK.

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  19. A treasure of a photo with excellent words, I especially like your last paragraph...oh life without the stabilizer wheels. Nice post and so well written.

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  20. What a charming little boy you were...very cute!..it's funny about the refrigerator too, I have a recipe book from my grandmother with a newspaper clipping in where she one a new GE Refrigerator for a written story contest! It was a very big deal!

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  21. Wonderful photo, and an equally wonderful post to go along with it.

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  22. It's always fascinating scrutinizing the backgrounds in such photos for a glimpse into a long-vanished past. My father had a similar kind of car (but more rounded) to the one in your photo (a taxi?) in the early '60s, so they were still around.

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