Wednesday, 5 February 2020

A moment of the ordinary in time and space

Tonight I had the most bizarre experience. I was trawling through the internet, trying to find ANY information about my great grandfather's family. In the process of increasingly more desperate and random searches, I came across the website of the photographer and postcard producer Francis Frith. They took photos all over Britain of villages and towns, large and small from the 1860s onwards, although inevitably the bulk were as cameras became less complicated and less expensive to use, producing postcards for the mass market.

I did a search for my father's village, and lo and behold I saw a photo of a Morris Minor that my dad inherited from his godmother. I'd seen the photo before in a book about Morris Minors, so that wasn't a complete surprise. The site invites you to give comments or information on the photos and so I was able to write a small blurb about the family who bought the car from new in the 1950s, and my family's connection with that family.

But then the BIG surprise. I decided to go through all the other photos of the village. There is only one main street and I have very distinct memories of it from my childhood as we spent every weekend there with my grandparents. In the 1960s there were still lots of independent shops. There was a Co-op (my grandma was a great fan of the Co-op and had shares), the Post Office, several pubs, a fish and chip shop, a library and two grocers.

There before me was a photo of the main road and two women walking on the footpath, one elderly. I took one look at the older woman's gait (flat feet) and the way she buttoned her cardigan, and knew it was my grandmother. Next to her, holding her handbag in a distinctive fashion was my mother. They were conversing and walking on the opposite side of the road to the Coop, heading towards home probably via the Post Office. Such an ordinary, unexceptional view, with the two most important women in my life in it! I am hoping to purchase a copy of the photo, and if I succeed, I will add it here.

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