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9:33am on Thursday, 28th October, 2010:



Guess what this is?

Yes, that's right, it's a piece of 1920s wallpaper from the backing to a framed group of three photographs of her uncles that my mother has. That's only a part of it — the rest has been damaged by damp.

I probably wouldn't have blogged such a piece of ephemera, but when I dismantled the frame to fix it up with a new back, it turned out that there was a surprise waiting for me. Behind the photographs of the three brothers were photographs of three of their sisters, including one of my mother's mother, my grandmother:

Judging by the dates on the back of the other photographs, they were framed in about 1925. I'm the first person to have seen them in 85 years.

My grandmother would be about 14 years old in this picture. She'd have left school and been working in service by then (which, for those of you unacquainted with the Britain of 85 years ago, is a polite way of saying she was a servant). She's younger than my own younger daughter is now. She has no idea how her life is going to turn out, who she'll fall in love with and marry, what family she'll have, how her gentle personality will lighten the lives of those around her, how she'll be missed when she dies three quarters of a century later...

I don't know what it is with photographs of people when they were young whom I only knew when they were old, but it really smacks me in the heart.

My mother has three other ancient framed photographs of her mother's family. I wonder if there's anything behind those?

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).