Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Perfect Day (The Ribbon - 1)

A few weeks ago I was looking through a box of old photographs and found this one. It was taken in the 1930s. As you can see, it's a beach scene. The four figures in the picture are looking intently at the camera - if you stare back you can almost communicate with them and imagine the wonderful day they are having. In the background there are groups of people sitting on deckchairs enjoying the sun. It looks like the perfect day.

The beautiful girl with the dark ribbon tied around her neck is being held up by a young man and is supported by her friend - I think the friends name is Betty. Who the two young men are is a mystery.

But I know who the beautiful girl is. Her name is Edith, she is a young schoolteacher. Her father is an author, he writes school books to teach English children French. Edith speaks French well herself and teaches children the language in school.

I have spent a long time staring at this picture, looking deep into Edith's eyes, as she stares back into mine. And then, in my mind, the camera clicks and we break eye contact. The four friends relax their pose and run off laughing and joking. Splashing in the sea, laughing, teasing, embracing, enjoying the warm and carefree day.

And I sit watching through the window of this photograph as Edith's life, and the extraordinary events that surround it, unfold from the sunshine and clear skies of this happy day on the beach in the late 1930s, on into the future.

Just over the clear horizon the storm clouds of war are gathering, the lives of everyone will soon be changed forever and this incredible story will unfold.

The reason I want to tell this story is simple.

Edith was my grandmother.


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