My grandfather was nothing if not an accountant and we are lucky enough to have a couple of cash books of his recording all their expenses from their wedding day up to the birth of their first child…As I am moving home shortly it’s going to be interesting to do a comparison! Here are the 1939 sums…(very faint because they’re in pencil! Sorry.)
And here is a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day (19th August 1939). They first moved into their house on 23rd September 1939.
It’s not so much the different “me”s that worry me. How often have you started doing/saying something only to realise that your parents express themselves in exactly the same way? Or you look in the mirror one day to discover that there is a certain resemblance in the mirror which you are sure wasn’t there yesterday.
I am very lucky that my parents are wonderful people but you spend so long trying to forge your own character and personality that it comes as a bit of a shock when you realise that you have become what you have been fighting against. That whole teen angst thing was pointless; the “nobody understands me” part is void; the rebellious/goth/new romantic period was just a phase; the disappearing off round the world to find yourself was just geography. You create all these different “you”s throughout your life and come back full circle to where you started. The very brilliant Stephen Fry said on a Michael Parkinson interview once that humans are the only creatures who try to be what they are not. You will never find a bear trying to be a duck. Perhaps we should all accept the person we are? In my case, my mother….:)
This is what came to mind on a pretty bleak, rainy walk along the beach where I live. Written for The Daily Post writing challenge called “Blog Your Block”: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/blog-your-block/
The grey pebbles turned and twisted under her sturdy shoes. It wasn’t a pretty beach, she thought. Although there was a kind of pre-historic peace to the place, as if it couldn’t be bothered with day trippers looking to build sandcastles. Only a few fishermen and foolhardy sea gulls clung to the shores of the channel trying to catch a bite for dinner. The coastguard was watching like an ever present guardian angel and a few local inhabitants always had their kitchen windows focussed on the waterfront.
Strange plants grew which had developed around this harsh, salty, barren landscape. Nothing else grew but scrub plants. There were no trees so the wily, quick witted birds had built their nests in the stones and the scrub trying to avoid the footsteps of people and foxes.
When the wind blew people walked at a 45 degree angle and when the sun shone they lay flat out on the uncomfortable stones in bathing suits which were quite inappropriate for the area – more suited to a Caribbean island somewhere.
The rain was penetrating every layer of clothing and she kept her eyes fixed on the pebbles. Occasionally a crushed shell came into view: a strand of mangled seaweed; discarded ropes; broken lobster pots – the plethora of driftwood which came ashore after a storm. The tides changed with every minute bringing a new wave of stones and shingle but the landscape never changed.
I did a post not long ago about how there was a distinct lack of creativity in architecture these days – we no longer seem to put in the effort and time to decorate our buildings as used to happen. There are a few very talented people that keep traditional crafts alive but not enough.
My response to the challenge this week is from a trip to India that I did – my first one. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the colours everywhere. In an abandoned palace in the middle of nowhere there were some amazingly colourful mosaics which caught my eye. The walls were crumbling and there was nobody to prevent rot and destruction setting in but the mosaics still shone…that’s what I call a work of art! Something that can withstand time, the elements and still be inspiring.
As part of the Daily Post photo challenge entitled “On the Move”, I looked into the past. I have been collating my family’s history and inherited the photographs from various people. One common theme running through the photos is that we were a family of boat lovers – in fact my great great grandfather was a boat builder on the census lists.
The photos I have chosen show a different time when leisure time still had standards – even if you were on a boat! The table-cloth and tea-pot came out; ladies wore pretty dresses and headscarves and you had a proper afternoon tea. Very “Famous Five” with lashing of ginger pop for the children!
The first three are c. 1950’s with my grandmother looking the part of the “Famous Five” mother.
My grandmother relaxing in style
My grandmother and Dad
This lovely lady is my Aunt Win enjoying tea on the River Wey with her friend Polly c.1930.
Tea party on the Wey
And this is her husband showing us how to survive whilst “On the Move”…I think I prefer the ladies’ way of doing things!
We are given 2 different messages in life: don’t expect too much (because you’ll be disappointed). But then we are also taught to hope and dream – to expect great things.
They are both generally things we are taught by our parents. You get told not to expect too much at Christmas and birthdays when you’re little because your parents are trying to protect you from disappointment (Grandma’s present normally. You always hoped that this year wouldn’t be a knitted sweater. The disappointment when it wasn’t a tape or a computer game cartridge – showing my age!)
The other message is that you can be whatever and whoever you want. This is a great message ! You can! But we get restrictions put on us at school with exams and choices. We have to do what we get good marks in, not necessarily what we want/love to do. A lot of us end up drifting because we follow the choices that school made for us. That is probably why a lot of people get to their thirties and have no idea how to do anything else.
If you were lucky and were taught as I was that Grandma made you that sweater out of love and she thought of you with each stitch. (You realise this about 10 years later!). If you can get through school and get out into the world you can do whatever you like. Even if you get to your thirties and are slightly disillusioned. Change is always possible.
One of my favourite sayings is “shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll be among stars.” I love this – it says dream big and it doesn’t matter if you don’t make it – at least you will have tried.
Written for the Daily Post “Great Expectations” – https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/great-expectations/
What would you say if someone asked “What is your story?” What would you pull out as the important and dismiss as trivial and insignificant? What value do you give your experiences? How do you begin and where do you end? Does it start with birth and end with death? I was born. I lived. I died. (Who said that? I can’t remember). What happens in the middle part?
I have started keeping a note of my memories and I suppose that they are the most important ones as they are the ones that I can actually remember. They are not always good memories but they have made an impression. I have lots more memories which I haven’t written down yet and they will all form the majority of the middle part. Family. Friends. School. Boyfriends. University. Nights Out. Jobs. Life. Added to all these fantastic things is always a flip side but no less important. Losing family and friends. Heart break. Nights in. Losing jobs. Not being a part of life. Hopefully a healthy combination of all of the above will make for a rich and varied tapestry of life!
Both of my grandmothers lost their memories towards the ends of their lives and I wish they had written down some of their experiences. It would be nice to know their thoughts and feelings and how perhaps things don’t change inside a person, even though times have changed. I would like to be able to give my children and my grandchildren a diary and let them know that they are not the first people to go through what they’re going through. To let them know that grown ups are not completely bizarre creatures.
Hopefully my story would be interesting to them (if not to rest of the world!). What is your story?
I have been looking through some old slides from my grandparents battered old leather suitcase and came across this fantastic picture of my grandmother circa 1958 or 59. The box of slides was entitled “The Broads” where I know my Dad was taken on holiday and they went boating, sailing, fishing – anything to do with being on the water. My grandfather’s passion was sailing and boats which has been passed on to my Dad and Uncle. We also have distant ancestors who were boat builders too…it must be in the blood! But back to the picture…
I love the fact that she wore a rather natty headscarf to keep her hair tidy whilst out on the river. Check out also the provisions lined up neatly inside the boat, with proper cutlery and a tea towel. This was a lady who was prepared and had a family of hungry men to feed! She also obviously didn’t let standards slip outside the home!
But she looked like she enjoyed herself! Here she is with Dad…
Wearing a practical boating outfit – a pleated skirt and cardi. And with a radio on board by the looks of it. It’s like some idyllic scene out of “Swallows and Amazons“, by Arthur Ransome which I would highly recommend reading!
I wonder how much the Broads have changed more than half a century later?
“A shot aimed is a shot lost. Aim with your eyes shut.”
This goes beyond anything any professional sports person will tell you – you've always got to keep your eye on the ball/goal/prize. Work hard, achieve, put the effort in and you will get the rewards, and you will deserve them. But how much sweeter is life when you risk it all and the risk pays off? If you live within the boundaries and follow the guidelines all the time, will you have missed some of the magic? How about all those times when the outside chance comes in? Sometimes life calls for a little bit of blind faith.
I am not condoning giving up trying at all but maybe once in a while we should all close our eyes and see where life takes us.