Tuesday, May 08, 2012

What do you do with the past?

Spring Term, 1971.

"Despite accidents, this has been a good term."

Wennington School
That's my brother's domestic science report from Wennington School in Yorkshire. I have about 9 of his school reports. I chose that one because he became a chef. What we knew as domestic science in those days actually gave him a real love of cooking. He was very creative and worked all over London including Leith's, Royal Court Hotel and National Theatre. If he invented a dish he would call it 'a la berger' - berger meaning 'shepherd'.

In this huge old black metal trunk I have been delving into, there is lot more than just my brother's school reports. There are all sorts of papers and note books. So far, on cursory glance, I have inspected my mother's English school book and her mother's diaries which seem to range from 1946-1971. If the diaries held something interesting like journal entries I could see the point in keeping them, but they just have notes like 'meet M, 2pm'. But my mother has obviously held on to these for a reason.

Norbiton Hall
My granny Maggie (mother's mother) lived in Norbiton Hall in Kingston with her third (or fourth, I can't remember) husband, Charles. They were, to us children, 'Granny and Charles'. An entity. We would visit them and play in the grounds of their residence (which sounds grand, but in fact they lived in a block of flats, but a very nice block). I have photographs of Granny and Charles with all sorts of people - I can ask my mother but she probably won't know who they are. And if I do find out who they are, what do I do with these photographs?

So what do I do with the past? Do I quietly bin it without telling my mother, or do I just keep it in that old black trunk until it will no longer be of consequence to her?

It's a puzzlement.


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