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.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Handbags and Gladrags

I've been a minority male in our family long enough to know that a girl isn't dressed if she doesn't have a bag in hand or over the shoulder. Though, I doubt I'll ever live long enough to grasp the complexities relating to the list of objects, carried in a girl's bag.

Our granddaughters have started early. Nan's handbag has always been a target for their little hands. Now, they have made their own, from used Jiffy bags, pieces of string,  and a customised front panel, hand decorated with their own design.

Perfect accessories for discerning girls. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


The crossover between dimensions can get pretty blurred when you're a grandparent to two year old identical twins. This afternoon, I was invited to follow our dynamic duo in a circuitous route around their house. I call it their house, because even though their parents pay the mortgage, the girls, along with their big sister, Speckly Woo, have staked an undeniable claim to the place. Every room displays evidence of their systematic and bloodless coup. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the circuitous route. Lounge to dining room to kitchen and lounge again, and each time I was handed a new toy to carry. In the end, I felt like one of those poor kids who made a hash of Crackerjack's 'Double or Drop'.

As if to emphasise who's calling the shots, they've recently taken to marching, just short of the goose-step, and shouting their intentions at a volume that would make any RSM call for mummy, between tearful sobs.

But I'm left wondering, if I find things becoming a bit blurry, how easy is it to maintain control whilst wearing a bucket on your head?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Sepia Saturday: Giggles and Dahlias

In my last Sepia Saturday post, I spoke of life's 'markers', and used a photograph to illustrate my point. Of course, the pictures we hold dear are markers in themselves. Why else would we keep albums?

This happy shot of my maternal grandparents is extra special to me. Whenever I think of them, this how I see them dressed, in my mind's eye. The setting here, is the same as last week's, at the 'The Laurels', and you can see the 'lightning tree' just over my grandmother's left shoulder.

I suspect they're sharing a silly moment in front of the camera. My grandfather had quite a repertoire of corny jokes and funny voices.

The dahlias are just a small swatch of colour that swept through their garden, almost an acre in size.  The place was crammed with fruit, vegetables and flowers, which my grandmother was passionate about.

More often than not, when he was saying his goodbyes, my grandfather would end with a cheery, "Happy days!"

Indeed they were.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Clear as Mud

One of the great obstacles to true aesthetic pleasure can be the label, or worse, the explanation. I'm sure we've all encountered at least one work of art that could have held its own perfectly well without any kind of commentary.

It's one of the curses of adulthood, that we feel obliged to explain our every action, and come up with answers designed to impress, rather than inform. Living in the age of the constant rehearsal, we often settle for losing the 'moment' rather than face the humiliation of failing to communicate a concept correctly.

'Get it right, first time, and leave no room for ambiguity', a rule that young children rarely have difficulty following.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Sepia Saturday: Markers

I would never underestimate the importance of life's 'markers', the intimate relationships we have with items that help us to keep our place in a particular time.

This photograph, taken at 'The Laurels', home of my maternal grandparents, is packed with them.

The tree in the background, killed by lightning and somehow striking back, grey against the blue sky, with it's bare and brittle branches. An ancient apple tree that produced sweet red fruit, tailored perfectly for a small boy's hand. A water butt where I observed tiny life forms performing in summer's heat, and from where my grandfather released a wheel of ice near the end of the Big Freeze in 1963.

A conservatory (built for £92-15s-9d) heavy with geraniums and waiting for morning glory. Two pale green doors. One, leading to a pre-flush toilet, the other, opening into the sweetest of kitchens where grandmother grew her rice puddings and apple sponges alongside the chicken's 'mash'.

Finally, two kitchen chairs, painted bright blue in a moment of modern madness, and a rickety folding wooden table. This is where we sat, mid-afternoon, with cups of tea circling a beleaguered biscuit barrel. Royal Scot, Princess, and Lincoln biscuits, dunked in sunshine and eagerly consumed.

In this picture, it looks as though the breeze was getting up. You can see various papers weighed down with unidentifiable objects. Seems that my grandmother was one for not losing her place, too.

More Sepia Saturday posts HERE

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Odd Shots

I was rummaging through my image folders 
and these turned up.

Photo by Speckly Woo

Surprisingly, in the way one might find odd socks,
I now had two odd shots.

Photo by Speckly Woo's Grandad

They don't really match, but they feel extremely comfortable together.