Over the past few days I have had a mad cleaning period - window frames washed, curtains washed, book cases cleaned out and walls cobwebbed. During this time I emptied my kitchen book shelves which contain all reference books I use for my crosswords etc., all books on Natural History, and a lot of cookery books. In addition my current book is usually kept there and when I emptied the shelves and moved them so that I could clean behind them I found a paper back that I had obviously read some time ago. It was the winner of the 2011 Booker Prize 'The Sense of an Ending' by Julian Barnes. I have read it again - what a brilliant, thought-provoking book - do read it if you haven't done so already.
Its theme basically is memory and how it plays tricks on us - is what we remember exactly what really happened?
I also came across this photograph - apologies for the quality but it was taken in 1947, probably on an old box camera. Do I really remember the circumstances? Well, I think I do - at least they will be correct in part; in fact it is one of many happy memories I have of my childhood (I would be nine years old and as far as I remember we had gone to Skegness for the day on the train (only thirty miles from where we lived, so a fairly easy journey on the train, which actually stopped at our village station). But this much is written on the back of the photograph 'Skegness 1947'.
In the photograph the ladies are - left to right - my mother (Maud), my Auntie Gert and my Auntie Ethel (always called Mary Ann for some reason).
Three sisters enjoying their day out. Their husbands were around somewhere - one of them must have taken the photograph - my father, Jack,
and my Uncles Cecil and Walt.
They had come through the war unscathed (my brother was at Dunkirk but survived the war) and were now intent on enjoying themselves. I love the photograph for many reasons - their sensible dresses and shoes - the fact that they all wore stockings - they all carried handbags - but above all, they all look so happy.
Of the actual day I remember nothing at all. Where was I when the photograph was taken? I can't remember. A perfect example of a memory which is incomplete and which only remains because of this photograph - an instant in their lives.