Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Writers' club

This morning it was our monthly writers' meeting.   We meet in the Quaker Meeting House in our little town.   It is a lovely, peaceful, simple room and very conducive to writing.

There were ten of us this morning and the theme was 'I hadn't been up into the loft for ages'.  Almost all of us had managed something.
The ideas were really all the same - going up into the loft, looking at old things, reviving memories - and yet everyone managed to find a different angle of approach.   Interestingly, our chairman had written an eight-line poem and really it completely summed up all that had been said by everyone else.   A case of 'less is more' if ever there was one - it was such a clever poem.

Lofts are funny things aren't they?   We do not have one here on the farm.   Because our house has a sharp gable on the front I think it does not leave room for a loft, so we have a box room instead.   It houses the farm accounts for the last ten years, all stacked on shelves, the Christmas decorations put away in boxes each year, all the suitcases and the cleaning implements for my cleaner who comes each week.  In addition there are numerous boxes - we all agreed that men do tend to keep boxes in which things have been delivered (in case they need to go back?).  

So my 'loft material' - photographs, old letters, knick-knacks - all have to be kept in various places around the house.   All the photographs are kept in an old tin and I know if I lift the lid I am lost for the afternoon as I browse through my childhood and that of my son.

I wonder how folk kept memories alive before the days of photographs.   Sadly, I suspect that memories of those days are largely lost.  All I can urge is that if you have a collection of old photographs, now is the time to write on the back of every one - the rough date it was taken, the occasion, the people in the photograph and any other relevant information.   I did this when I first put them into the tin and any I find and add are written up before they go in.   I know that many of them will be completely unintelligible to folk who come after me without a few pointers in the right direction.


15 comments:

Gwil W said...

To answer your question, before photography was popular many people were great writers of letters and diaries, in addition the better off had portraits of themselves and their relatives, even their dogs and their other animals, painted. In this way they tried to keep their family memories alive.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

That is the best idea about writing on photographs - I also do that with my digital photos - names, date, location - all in the title of the digital photo - and I have thousands of them all in properly labeled files - so others will know what is going on.

I think here we call it an attic - as a loft is usually what we refer to as the place above, where the hay is stored in a barn. Love the language differences.

Heather said...

We had an infestation of mice in our loft and since then I refuse to put anything up there. Keeping boxes is definitely a 'man thing' - they all go up in the garden shed now and I try to prevent the spare bedroom from becoming a junk room.

Heather said...
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Dominic Rivron said...
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Dominic Rivron said...

I hadn't been up into the loft for ages. When I did, the other day, I recognised the skeleton I found up there by the logo on the boiler suit it wore. It was the same as the one on that van someone left parked in the street ages ago. Everyone complains about how it lowers the tone - flat tyres, rusty bodywork... Well, of course, it all came flooding back. About 5 years ago the engineer had been to fix the central heating. He said it was all sorted out and working fine but that he just wanted to go up and check on the water tank before he left. He must have pulled the door to behind him and it's impossible to open it from the inside. I am very absent minded at the best of times, I'm afraid, not to mention rather deaf, and I was waiting for a taxi that afternoon to take me to the station - I was going off down South to stay with my sister for a couple of weeks, like I do every now and then. I had such a lovely time that when I got back I completely forgot about the problem I'd had with the central heating. Like everybody else I wondered who'd abandoned that old van in the street but I didn't put two and two together. Anyway, I asked Bob what I should do for the best. I always ask Bob -the man next door- in situations like this. I was all for calling the police. It seemed like the right thing to do - I mean, someone ought to tell his nearest and dearest, if he had anyone, which I doubt, as no-one came looking. But Bob said you never knew where it might lead: they could end up “framing me for manslaughter”, as he put it. They might even put me away. He said had I ever thought of building a rockery in the front garden? I said no, but I thought it sounded a lovely idea. He said he'd come round at the weekend and give me a hand.

I wish I knew his name. It seems wrong to me, not knowing. But name or no name, it would be wrong to bury him in an unmarked grave. I'm going to get a statue or something nice from the garden centre to put on top – it just seems like the right thing to do, if you know what I mean.

Robin Mac said...

I couldn't agree more about annotating photos. I have a lovely old album which belonged to my husband's mother, but none of them photos was labelled. By the time I saw the album and asked her for identification she was too old and could not remember. Some of the photos were really interesting so it was very sad not to know the stories. We talk of attics rather than lofts here too. Cheers

Robin Mac said...

I couldn't agree more about annotating photos. I have a lovely old album which belonged to my husband's mother, but none of them photos was labelled. By the time I saw the album and asked her for identification she was too old and could not remember. Some of the photos were really interesting so it was very sad not to know the stories. We talk of attics rather than lofts here too. Cheers

Terry and Linda said...

I'm working on scanning my mother's photos for my brother...so he can have a copy also. He much prefers the the digital variety...I like the paper kind.

Linda
http//coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Reader Wil said...

Thie same happens to me when I do the spring cleaning. When i see my scrapbooks with photos of the children as babies, then I am lost.
Thanks for your comment. Yes , I am still in Oz. And guess what? I am reading a book by and about James Herriot!

Hildred said...

Well Pat, I was all set to make a comment about pictures and identification and what not, but Dominic's 'contribution' has just put me right off!!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Before photographs people kept memories alive through stories. Though of course one's children can not be relied upon to stick to the truth.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh dear Dominic - I think you should join our writers group (you would certainly bring the average age down by a few years) - very creepy story but obviously not Hildred's cup of tea. Sorry it put you off Hildred.
I am sure that memories were handed down by word of mouth but they do tend to get distorted and forgotten don't they?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Reading through you comments again I think Gwil that you are right about letters, diaries and portraits but of course this only related to those who could read and write and afford to have portraits painted; most of our ancestors didn't fit into this class.

MorningAJ said...

Oh Dominic that was wonderful. It was great fun to read (but I tend to go for murder mysteries!)

I agree about the photos. I have a box full that I inherited and I have no idea who half of the people are. I wish my parents had put notes on the back!