Sunday, 11 July 2010


This is my Uncle Alf and Aunty Dos. When I first saw this picture, I was puzzled by the rather unusually formal pose. The puzzle was unravelled when I asked my Dad about it. As a young man my Dad did a lot of photographic assignments for Sir Billy Butlin who owned Butlin's Holiday Camps and Dad came up with the suggestion for their advertising campaign. He suggested a photo of a young couple and the slogan 'It's SMART to go to Butlins' as Butlin's close friend was Billy Smart of Billy Smart's Circus fame. This photograph of my Aunt and Uncle, taken by my Dad was used in one of the first EVER television adverts aired with the slogan. I love this story. It makes me chuckle to think what an advertising executive would now be paid for coming up with such an idea! As it was, the photo and the slogan were supplied without charge. We did however, get to have many lovely, memorable holidays at Butlins all over the country!
Sadly my Aunt and Uncle are no longer with us but I have very many happy memories of them too. They were very sporty and active, playing lots of tennis and swimming regularly. As a child, I remember one of the treats they would give me would be to hand me a little set of drawers made out of matchboxes that they'd decorated and attached tiny little handles to. Each visit, I was allowed to open one drawer and discover a little treat inside - a sweety or a tiny toy. As a child I thought it magical. As an adult, remembering them, even more so.


This photograph was taken at one of the first showings of a Cinamaplex film in London. Cinemaplex was a very wide screen cinema. Sadly, we don't know what was showing but my two brothers look like they were enjoying every moment. The elder of my two brothers, Peter is in the front and John who is two years younger is sat behind him. Under John's seat, you can see my Dads camera case. Mum knitted both their jumpers. When I showed her the picture and asked about the jumpers, she said 'the boys rarely wore anything I hadn't knitted or made myself'. I don't know how she ever found the time! We think Peter is about 6 years old and John about 4 in the photo.

Thanks for all your lovely comments. I am finding this an amazing voyage of discovery and I'm glad you are all enjoying it with me. Believe me when I say I have literally hundreds of photos to post .... its hard to make selections so they'll probably all appear eventually.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


My Dad took this photograph of my Mum on the day they first met - 1st June 1947. My Mum is 20 years old and she was at a picnic arranged by my Aunty Doll who was doing a bit of sneaky match-making! The picnic took place at Chingford Mount but, prior to going there they'd met at the house my Aunt lived in which had previously been a house for 'Fallen Women' and still  had the bars at the doors and windows. My Mum saw my Dad standing by the fireplace wearing his army uniform and her first thought was 'that is the man I am going to marry'. My Dad chatted her up and cleverly arranged a date by taking this picture and then arranging to show it to her when it had been developed and printed. Mum had made her own skirt and crocheted her hat and as she put it 'bought the blouse for tuppence hapenny'. She was wearing her sister Dos's shoes because she didn't have anything decent of her own. By the end of August they'd got engaged using Dad's demob money from the army - £30 to be exact. They  were married in the September of the following year. My Dad gives talks about his career as a photographer and always puts this photograph up saying how it is the most important photograph he ever took.

Hard to imagine that what I consider a treasure trove of family memorabilia was found in my parents shed after extensive searches of all the more likely places.

Also hard to imagine, is the depth of the conversations they evoke with my parents. I have honestly learnt more about their early lives looking at these pictures with them recently than I've ever known before. It is such a relief that their shed isn't damp!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

This photograph was taken by my Dad in 1955. It shows my Mum with her Mum and my two brothers. They are pictured outside a Convalescent Nursing Home in Herne Bay where my Nan was trying to build her strength before a stomach operation. Her name was Mary Martha Harper .... or, Martha Mary Harper. Apparently even she wasn't sure of her own name. Nobody knew her real age either because, in those days, you lied about your children's age so you could get them working and into 'Service' earlier. I was really shocked when I learned that was what had happened to my Nan.
My Mum and Nan were very close. My Mum was the youngest of several sisters and half-sisters and during the war, when they were all evacuated, my Mum refused to go and stayed in London to look after her Mum who was already in poor health.
Strangely, I was tempted to call my daughter Martha when she was born. We chose Hannah instead. Had I known Martha was my Nan's name, I would've more likely made that choice. Hannah wouldn't have been pleased.