I have a beautiful Victorian photo album, passed on from my grandparents. Its leather bound, a weighty volume with a rusty metal clasp, and when I open the pages I smell that musty, stale aroma that often accompanies old books. I often retrieve it from the shelf, settle down on my sofa with a cuppa, and slowly turn the pages, looking at the faces of my distant family peering back at me from the sepia coloured images.
I muse over their lives, what the occasion of the photograph was…. Was it a once in a lifetime chance to visit a photographer, resplendent in their Sunday best? What was the event?.... a wedding, birthday, completion of a family, or was it marking someone going away to work or to war?
If I had a time machine, I would travel back and meet them, ask them all those questions I would love to know that make them human…. I wonder what they did in their spare time? Was their favourite colour blue or green? What food did they like to eat? Even sometimes what their names are? What job did they do, and how much did they enjoy it (or not). Did they travel anywhere, where did they go? How did they meet their spouse? Why was there a pig on their back yard?
So many family secrets I would love to know…. Just mundane, day to day facts that would bring them closer to me; let me know them a little better; find out just how alike or different our lives were…. If only they had written down those insignificant little notes, how precious would that be for me and my family?
I am so lucky that I have the time and the opportunity to do that for my descendants. Through my album making, I can record my family and friends, all those little foibles that make the people in my life who they are. I can pass our stories, favourite things, family recipes, down through the generations, so that my 4 x great grandchildren can look at our images, and know that they are not alone in their love of crisps dipped in chocolate spread…….hmmmm