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Photograph on the beach

By Norman Turrell

Photograph on the beach

I don't remember exactly when the picture was taken, we always had Summer trips to the beach when I was small. It's a head and shoulders shot and I'm smiling straight to camera, a red plastic bucket and spade held up proudly in my left hand. Unusual. My Mother was always telling me to cheer up because I never smiled. She would remind me how I laughed when I was a baby. A babies world is very different to the one we live in, I expect, but our minds don't allow us to remember, do they. Still, I am happy this day. Maybe it's a special day.   

There is enough room in the background behind my brightly coloured trophies to see my brother sitting reading a book. He's wearing a faded denim shirt and jeans as he always did, a uniform of the time. The cover isn't visible, but I can guess that it's science fiction with a complicated plot. I saw him as an intellectual. He had all sorts of interesting books and music which I tried to understand, but the distance between our years made it difficult. That would frustrate me and he'd mock my attempts to grasp the concepts. Funny that I now have a doctorate and he works in a call centre.

My Mam and Dad are on the other side. She's knitting, Just seeing the needles brings back their incessant clicking. She is big here but I saw a picture of her before she met my Dad. Black curls exploding around a beautiful thin face, about twenty years old perhaps? I was thin at twenty. Her eyes look the same though. People say that about me too, the eyes, through the years, staying the same.

My Dad sits with a knotted hanky on his head. Yes, people really did do that, especially since his bare scalp would have taken a beating without it and I am sure he wouldn't put any sun cream on. He has a newspaper, and again I can guess what is being read, it'll be the horses, he didn't have much interest in current affairs. Not that he gambled a great deal. He didn't drink a great deal either. Or talk. None of us spoke much.

It strikes me that the picture sums it up. We are all in our own separate worlds. But I am not alone, I am smiling at the camera. Smiling at the person taking the picture. I remember. The camera had a timer. I am smiling for myself.

This page was amended on 04/01/2012


A joyful read I like the way the author captures the ethos of a content family silence without a need to impress eachother relaxed in eachothers company and their own pass times.

From julie
04.05.2013 06:45:44

So much, from one small photograph ....
Poignant, and tells so much. X

From Rosie
14.03.2012 19:51:46

This is a very nice piece of writing that captures a moment in time (even if fiction) perfectly

From Myra Anne
07.03.2012 12:00:22

I think this is a very nice piece of writing, all the descriptions encapsulating a moment in time.

From Myra Anne
29.02.2012 20:57:06

Argh, ha! I see you've uploaded a 'fictional' photo. Great.

From Stella
04.01.2012 11:55:42

Norman, good to see that you've put your picture on your profile page. Can we have a 'fictional' photo on this page please?

From Stella
16.09.2011 14:05:44

Sorry, it's fiction ;)

From Norman
28.08.2011 23:39:28

It would be so good if you could upload the photograph.

From Stella
27.08.2011 19:37:28
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