I thought i’d give a glimpse of something I’m working on at the moment. It’s coming to the time of year when people get dressed up and dance around a brightly coloured pole – a Maypole. It’s usually a very popular event and hopefully there will be some acceptable British bank holiday weather – a tall order i know but it could happen!
Next Monday i’ll going along to the Mayday celebrations to photograph the festivities and try and capture some of the atmosphere. The Maypole featured in the photo above is a permanent iconic structure on the local village green, unlike many other village Maypoles that are put up and taken down when required. Most of the year it just stands waiting, waiting patiently for May to arrive when it will become the focus of attention.
The history of the Maypole is fascinating with the practice falling in and out of favour with the ‘authorities’ on many occasions. Probably one of the more amusing descriptions comes from the Long Parliament ordinance of 1644 describing maypoles as “a Heathenish vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickedness.” Plenty to photograph then!
It’s old world clashing into the new, although it could be strongly argued that most village Maypole usage these days has more to do with tourism than any olde world beliefs. One visitor to the local celebrations where i am, is apparently coming all the way from Atlanta!
No it isn’t a great image, and no i’m not becoming one of those ‘visual artists’ who use images from Google Street to make art. This screen capture image, though fuzzy and blurry, is an important find…. at least to some people.
Last weekend, the last in the line of my grandparents died. My Grandma was 93. The family is still coming to terms with the events of the past ten days. Somehow you believe that people will always be there. We fool ourselves into thinking that time stands still when everything, in fact, points to time passing by and people getting older. Then you get hit with the fact that connections to people and places do come to an abrupt end.
Next week I’ll be down in Northamptonshire for the funeral and to empty Grandma’s bungalow. It will be a sad event in more ways than one. We will have also lost the last family connection to the village of Thorpe Malsor where my father spent much of his childhood and my grandparents lived right until the end. The village itself was part of the family with so many memories. It was the place where i first got drunk on a rather tasty, but very powerful, home made rhubarb whiskey from my Granddad’s extensive wine cellar. You name it, and my Granddad had probably made a very good wine from it. It’s going to be sad to think that we have no one to visit there any more.
While having a wander through Thorpe Malsor on Google Earth today, I suddenly came across this familiar looking person walking their dog. Was it? Is it? Yes! It is my Grandma walking Trixie. I actually recognised Trixie first – no face blurring on dogs. Grandma seems to be just turning the corner for home after returning from a walk down Eagle Lane. They used to walk miles. The image was taken nearly three years ago, back in March 2009.
I imagine she had no idea what the Google Street car was, or what it was doing. Trixie is certainly giving the camera a wary look I had no idea Grandma was on Google Earth until today, but it’s certainly a nice way to remember her – just out walking Trixie.
Just a simple photograph. Most family albums contain photographs like this one. A young lady holding a child, the photograph probably taken around the mid 1930′s by the fashion. She could be anyone.
Click. We often take photographs and then forget about them. In this age of easy digital photography we seem to be taking more and more. I just wonder how many family images will make it to become 75+ years old. Click. Moment captured, moment gone. We don’t appear to realise the value of something until much, much later. Photographs, like a good wine, get better with age. They even attain new meaning as they get older. Photographs constantly develop long after the camera, computer or chemicals have been put away.
I remember when i was about 16, being shown an old photograph of my Grandpa on his motorbike. He would have been around the same age as me when the photo was taken, sometime during the mid-1930′s. Until that point i realised that i’d always thought of my Grandpa as the old person he was. He had never been young – at least, I’d never really thought of him as ever being young. The motorbike photograph opened my young eyes to the fact he HAD been a youthful, adventurous and care free person once. Once there was just my Grandpa, the open road and his motorbike. Then came the war.
Coming back to the photo above, i have a confession. I do know the lady above, or at least i did. When this post publishes, i’ll be at a funeral service for my Gran (or should i say Nana – the term Grandma made her ‘sound old’ she said ) who died at the age of 96 this month after a stroke. It was kinda hard to associate the frail old lady i used to see at the care home with the youthful person in the photo, but they are one and the same person – separated by 70+ years or so. Time and photography often conspire together to taunt us.
I won’t end the post on a sad note (even if it is a sad day) but I’ll finish with something that has always made me laugh. Some years ago, when i was a photography student, my Nana was chatting to friends and proudly talking about what her grand children were up to. Finally it got around to me ”Our Richard”, She proudly stated “ Is studying pornography (pronounced by my Nana as porn-e-ography) at art college”. Fortunately i wasn’t there to die of embarrassment and someone, thank goodness, corrected her on my behalf We all know what you mean Nana.