Long Socks And Short Trousers

Plane tree's last few leavesA quick trip to Ringwood was required this morning to engage in a banking transfer because my French account has slipped into overdraft.  Plane tree leaves, a few of which still clung precariously to their perches, swirled around Meeting House shopping centre.  The Big Issue seller, and the seated homeless man seeking donations with his dog are beginning to suffer the cold on one of our first wintry days.

Midway through my course of antibiotics, I drowsed away the afternoon, between dozes reading more of Iain Pears and Voltaire, and playing a little on-line Scrabble.

Jackie, who is attending Harris Academy award ceremony this evening with Becky and Flo, left me chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice which, accompanied by fizzy water, perked me up a bit.  Enough for me to have a look at photograph number 36 in the ‘through the ages’ series.

Chris, Jacqueline & Derrick

The shot was probably taken in about 1952. Jacqueline, as well as Chris and I, seems to be kitted out for school.  We would all still have been attending St Mary’s, Russell Road Primary School in Wimbledon. Our short trousers tell me this.  I have mentioned before what happened to my first pair proudly bought for my first day at Wimbledon College.  We have all had our hair brushed for the photographic occasion, and unlike the little boy on the far left of the Victory Street Party picture, our long socks are firmly in place, kept there by elastic garters.  Neckties seem to have been in order.  As I remember both the stockings and the ties were quite difficult to wear with any sort of decorum.  It was perhaps the year before this that I had my brief tenure in the cub scouts. The garters that held in place the socks for that activity had mini green bunting flags suspended from them.  I wonder whether I kept the uniform decorations after I was asked to leave, or just snipped them off.

It is difficult to convey, in our age when most people have one device or another for taking photographs, what an event, worthy of careful preparation, it was sixty-odd years ago to have your image fixed on film.  You had to tidy up, look your best, and sit still.  Only the professionals took shots of people on the move.  Casual snaps from the few amateurs that were around then were not usually risked. Colour photographs can now be stored in the humblest mobile phone, and conjured up at the touch of a button or two, or the fingertip stroking of a screen.  Prints are rarely made.  When we were very young, parents did not have the facility for capturing countless colour images of their children’s every developing moment.  Those who were fortunate enough to be given a black and white posed print or two treasured them enough to place them in an album, or, as in my mother’s case keep them in a box.  Mum’s box was raided by Elizabeth when she made the series.  What would my grandfather, who took most of our old portraits, have thought of what can be done with what is left of his work today?

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