The 2013 Advent Calender: For the 25 days of Christmas, I will be blogging each day about a miscellaneous thing I love. Not necessarily a big thing, not necessarily a small thing and not in any order.
Last year I blogged about my favourite photographs, which spanned from my childhood to post-university years. John doesn’t understand my love of photographs. On my bedroom wall is a photo-frame containing eight photographs. I picked them as my favourite memories. John took one look and informed me I was self-obsessed as they all contained me.
At home in Barton, my mum used to keep photograph folders. Not albums, folders. Printed out at the local Kodak and stuck onto a4 paper in plastic wallets, labelled with time and date. On occasional holidays, my dad would dig out the slide projector, and go through slides from his youth, my mother’s, and the childhood of my brothers and sister. They were all presented in order, in collected reels. My brother collects photographs the same way, organised and collated.
I never really took photographs before the end of school. When the year was spooling to an end, suddenly every pupil in Year 11 had a camera. It was the advent of digital cameras, so it was quick, cheap and easy. When it came to prom, we all had cameras. I didn’t particularly enjoy school, but when we all started piling up photographs it was like they were preserving something precious slipping away. I suppose, difficult or not, they were transformative years and every photograph is a reminder of a time that forges who you are for the rest of your life.
In the first empty week after Prom, I put together my first photo album. Not quite in the same way as my mother or father: this was a 21st century way. I placed the photographs to music, videos which are still stored on my hard drive now. I always loved the idea of American yearbooks, and even then I understood the pathos of the faces on paper that didn’t age whilst everyone else went their separate ways to their own separate stories. I created my own version.
Five years later, I created a similar thing, explicitly. Our university did actually produce a yearbook, a vastly expensive, impersonal affair. Rather than pay for this pointless gimmick, I created our own alternative yearbook for our circle of friends. It contained upwards of 4000 photographs, all themed. It was printed as a beautiful, hardback.
Since then, I’ve maintained a book containing photographs as they’re taken, a perpetually up-to-date photo album, divided by eras of my life (Tonnelier Road Years, Denholme Road to Christabel…) A month ago, I finally completed a book that included all my photographs from birth to university. When it’s printed, I will have a complete record of my entire life, in photographs.
If there was a fire, I’d save these first. (well, perhaps not, as there is a digital copy of the album that could be reprinted, but you take my metaphor…) Maybe it’s a by-product of the writer-mind: it’s very beguiling to have it all set out like a long, long story. But mainly, I cherish memories and feel a preternaturally early-onset nostalgia over, well, pretty much everything.
The best image, though? When I’m ninety, in my Victorian attic, next to my globe drinks-cabinet, star machine and library of novels, that I’ll have a shelf full of thick hardback books, cram-full of memories. Preferably in a celebratory, and not Havisham-esque way.