Wednesday, 22 December 2010
All of the people in this photo have gone. This was taken on April 10th 1948 at St Mary's Church in Baldock, Hertfordshire. My mother and father's Wedding Day. Obviously my mother and father are at the centre of the photo. Next to my father stands his mother - a tiny lady. I don't think my grandfather was at the wedding. There's no one left to tell me, now. My father, like me, was a tall man - both of his parents were tiny. Next to my mother stands my maternal grandmother - I only ever really knew her as wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden. She used to be brought over to our house for Christmas. A victim of Parkinson's Disease. She died when I was quite young. Next to her stands my Uncle from whose album this photo came. I think he must have been doing National Service then. He used to tell me funny stories that involved Russian soldiers and lots of vodka. He passed on just before Christmas last year. The two outliers were friends of my parents - Jack and Doreen. They disappeared from our lives when I was about 10. They may still be alive but lost to us. I remember bumping into them once when I was a teenager. They never got back in contact with my parents. I don't know if there had been a falling out or not. They just stopped seeing each other.
My father was born and lived with his mother in Letchworth. My mother came up to Baldock with her mother from Eastbourne thanks to their Bed & Breakfast house being bombed during the war. My Uncle had been evacuated to Baldock. They had nowhere else to go. My mother worked during the war at The White Horse pub near the railway station in Baldock. It was a favourite haunt of American Servicemen and she served Glen Miller - the famous flying band leader - there.
My father passed on 21 years ago. In January. My mother outlived him by some 15 years and she died in October whilst we were away on holiday in Holland. All of these people died in the Winter - stretching it a bit for my mother, technically Autumn, I suppose. However, this time of the year certainly tends to be a melancholy time for us. Well, for me particularly.
I've spent a while thinking about this post - it's obviously personal. But, I watched the wonderful BBC documentary on Ray Davies which finished a few moments ago, and towards the end they played a song he'd written what? 1968?:
people take photos of each other
just to prove they exist
I'm glad all those people existed. I'm about to raise a glass of single malt to these ghosts.
To absent friends.