So I'm back from a week's holiday, staying with Mum and Dad in Cornwall. Had a lovely time, my little boy gamboled in the sand and splashed in the sea, gurgling like a maniac while all and sundry wanted a play and a cuddle. Made me all reflective about growing up having holidays in St Ives myself, looking forward to doing all those fun things with him that my parents did with me.
As you might imagine, Mum kept on getting out masses of pictures of me when I was younger to see any similarities(it's uncanny how me and the poor boy look alike), and it made me realise that all family photography is propaganda. It's staged managed to edit out the sulks, the arguments and the realness.
There's nothing wrong with that of course, but so much gets missed out. When we got married, we hired two photographers; one for the usual posed pictures, but also another to take continuous reportage of the day, not asking people to pose, just recording what was actually happening.
If I'm honest, I prefer the reportage ones, they're so much richer, which is priceless to me, since a big failing of any wedding day is how much the bride and groom don't get to see and do. I don't remember much, it was too much of blur.
Anyway, Mum got out some pictures from a family trip to Germany when I was around six. My sisters where competing (I was too young) and we all went.
Back then, swim teams didn't stay in hotels, they stayed with willing families from local teams, and returned the favour when they came to over. We stayed with a lovely family, they were so kind and thoughtful. It was one of the best family holidays I can remember.
Anyway, the pictures were not just 'staged' the older brother in their family was a keen photographer and was constantly snapping what was going on. He was kind enough to give my Mum a copy of the prints and there's everything on there. Me arguing with my older sister (we always did) a picture of Mum and Dad that somehow shows them as a romantic couple having a quit moment rather than Mum and Dad..lots of stuff that seems to show how things were rather than how we like to believe.
Here's two pictures of me, one 'staged' in colour, one black and white, taken while I wasn't looking not (not scanned in case you're wondering about the the white splash thing that came from my camera flash)
I can't show pictures with everyone else, I don't have permission and there are better ones, but still, the black and white one captures something the other doesn't.
It brings back what it felt like to be that age. I remember wanting to play and stuff like other kids, but my I used to spend hours just daydreaming about things by myself too. That's why I was such a clumsy kid, my mind was elsewhere. That's I drive Mrs Northern mental - mid-conversation she can see my eyes glaze over as my mind just goes somewhere else.
I hadn't thought about being like that as a child for ages. I was very lonely at times, my sisters were swimming every weekend which meant tagging along, spending hours and hours at yet another swimming pool with no one to play with. That's one reason I started swimming, just so I could join in.
Don't misunderstand, I'm not complaining, I was very lucky with the love and fun I had with my parents and the other kids I grew up with, some who are now by best friends. But I had be adept at occupying myself at times- and learned to love drawing, writing and reading for fun and, well, daydreaming.
But I couldn't tell you if I 'got' good at occupying myself, or I was just like that anyway. I often thought it was the former, but coming back to being on holiday with my little boy, I realised how thoughtful he's already becoming and how good he is at playing on his own (not that he gets much chance), maybe it's just how I am and a part of how he will be too.
Funny how a few pictures that haven't been 'stage managed' can make you think eh? So I'll be making sure that my boy gets to see some pictures and video that show how our lives really were when he was growing up.