Hidden Treasures

Our blackbird has not visited for two days now. An inspection of the ground beneath the window suggests that he has not broken his neck in his efforts, so we can only assume he has found a mate.

Cleaning, sorting, and unpacking continued today. I now have a tidy office and Jackie has an organised kitchen. She continued with her magnificent cleaning marathon throughout the day. I, however, found a perfect excuse to give myself a break.

After lunch we drove to Currys in Christchurch to buy a second vacuum cleaner. This is so there can be one kept upstairs and one down. We also bought a shredder to give my fingers a rest from tearing up papers that should have been destroyed years ago.

During the trawl through boxes containing papers, art materials, and other such miscellaneous items, I had discovered some old black and white negatives. These were in a small, yellowing, envelope bearing the name Ilford, providers of excellent photographic materials. It contained an advertisement for enprints at 6d each. An enprint was an enlarged print, I think of 6 x 4 inches. 6d was the equivalent of 2 and a half pence today. I must have taken some of the pictures, but have no recollection either of them or of the events they portray.

On 3rd January I published one of me taken by Jacqueline in 1957. Another, of Vivien and me was published on 18th March. These were both part of Elizabeth’s through the ages series.

Probably the year before Jacqueline took her photograph, there is one of Mum and this sister in the garden of the Stanton Road maisonette in which we grew up. I would have taken that picture and the others with the Box Brownie given to me by Grandpa Hunter. The size and format of the negatives suggests that. As will be seen from these illustrations, they weren’t in a very good state.Mum & Jacqueline 1957

Peeping behind his curtain in the photograph is Fred Downes, our extremely unpleasant and bullying downstairs neighbour.

Our back door is over the steps behind Mum and Jacqueline. Immediately behind it is another set of steps leading directly up to the kitchen. It was from the top of these stairs that Mum, when I must have been less than three, pretended to throw me down. She slipped and injured her knee. I flew through the air ‘with the greatest of ease’ and landed on my feet behind the closed door.

Dad & Joseph 1962Jospeh & Maureen 1962Mum, Uncle Derrick, Joseph, Maureen, Auntie Jean & Vivien

By 1962 the family had moved to Bernard Gardens, and it was from there that the outing took place that provided the next three images. In the first, Dad stands beside Joseph who was clearly holding forth. My brother is then straddled by our cousin Maureen, whose parents, Uncle Derrick and Auntie Jean joined us with Vivien on a trip to what looks like Richmond Park.

Auntie Evelyn 1967Auntie Evelyn’s story is told in ‘One For Rebekah’ of 15th August last year. In 1967 Jackie and I were visiting her in her sheltered housing in a home for Distressed Gentlefolk in Chilslehurst. On one occasion she gave us a negative and print of herself taken at a recent party. I wondered whether they had been served tea there, and whether my great aunt had provided it. Evelyn, you see, was very short sighted, and when she made tea she made it so she could see it. This very dark beverage was best left to grow cold so you could down it in one. That way you didn’t have to prolong its taste.

Mum R & Becky 1970Later this afternoon, Jackie had taken a similar assortment of belongings from one of her boxes and discovered a colour slide from he mother’s collection. I must have taken this photograph at Amity Grove. It shows my mother in law holding our daughter at the bottom of the garden in the late summer of 1970.

This evening we returned to Bombay Night in New Milton for an excellent meal accompanied by Kingfisher beer.


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