Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tea break

(A re-post, on what would have been my dear Grandad's 102nd birthday.)
This slightly out-of-focus photograph of my maternal grandfather, Asher James Gregory, is one of my favourite images of him.

The grandfather clock was working then, and as the time was almost 10.15, Asher had probably just finished a cup of tea, before returning to whatever he had been doing outside. Our daughter has the clock now and, even though the hands have long since stopped, I can't help hearing the slow, regular swing of the pendulum, in my memory.

The table that's showing off one corner is now in our home. There is history to it. My mother used to sleep under it during the war. We have sat around it, as a family, for countless meals and celebrations. Now, my granddaughters sit around it when they visit, and draw their impressions of the world in coloured crayons on it, just the way I did.

The room Asher is standing in, is the dining room. Although, it was always referred to as the 'kitchen'. The room adjoining, is the kitchen but, always referred to as the 'scullery'. Out of shot, in the top right hand corner of the scullery, sat a holding tank, full of spring water, pumped up to the house from a well in the garden. When I look at this picture, I can taste the sweetness of that water.

It looks as though Asher is ready to leave now. He's about to put his jacket on.

As I sit here, watching him, I know the exact smells, sounds and peaceful surroundings he's experiencing in this captured moment. The timeless magic of treasured family photographs.


  1. A perfect exercise in deconstruction and construction. You deconstruct the photograph, identifying the objects that are the elements and firmly rooting them in current reality (where the table is, where the clock is ....) and then you skillfully reconstruct the entire scene so we are left with the very essence of your grandfather. Love it.

  2. A lovely photograph, so full of memories - and those things still in your family, the clock and the table with all the memories they hold. Wonderful.

  3. I know exactly what you mean about old photos evoking smells and sensations. I have a similar little mind-wander when I view a picture of my Gran in her chair at the house I visited as a child. Lovely description Martin.

  4. The strength of the memories must be proportionate to the love you had for him. We owe more to our grandparents than we sometimes recognise, I think.

  5. Wonderful post :) I love the word scullery!

  6. Thank you so much for that. A very rich post with many gifts for your readers. Re. kitchen vs. scullery, I've been told by older Aberdonians that the kitchen usually contained a "granny nook" (bed for granny) as well as being the main gathering place for the family, around the fire. Meals were prepared in the galley kitchen off to the side. Our computer is now in our kitchen's "granny nook". Maybe that's why it feels so cosy!


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