There are three great stories in every family, if you just stay up talking long enough, it will all come out." - Stephen Poliakoff.
I had at least a half dozen potentially great stories, at the last count. Aside from those events I have witnessed at first hand, there are the tales and anecdotes that I pestered my maternal grandparents to repeat over and over. On the paternal side, the stories have colour and a hint of romance, yet they are born out of cold facts, recorded in official documentation. The stories are no less powerful, but they lack the levels of emotional investment that’s vital to understanding the connections between people and events. When someone is relating a family tale or offering an explanation as to why a certain event occurred, we are not just hearing the words, we are watching the expressions. We are getting something special, something that can rarely, if ever, be gleaned from passionless paperwork.
Today, I spent a little time organising some of Mags’ family photographs, most of which reside in a shoebox left by Mag’s late mother. Most of the faces are familiar or at least identifiable. But in almost all collections of family photos, there’s a minimum of one that got away.
As soon as I set eyes on this unknown character, I was thinking ‘Poliakoff’. I’m reminded of the mysterious images in his television drama, “Perfect Strangers.” Suddenly I’m asking myself who the girl is posing for, and why. I’m wondering who she grew up to be, and what stories might have emerged if, at some point we had been afforded the opportunity to stay up and talk at length.