For Emily

What I dream I had, dressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline, of smoky Burgundy
Softer than the rain
For Emily, whenever I may find her – Paul Simon 1966

Well, not quite……..

My mother, Peggy,  hated this photograph with a passion – “please don’t show it to anyone, I look dreadful“; ever the dutiful son, here it is on the Internet for all the world to see.  My mother is the young girl on the left, her mother May is in the middle and my great maternal grandmother Emily is on the right; she appears to be modelling herself on Queen Mary (Mary of Teck).

I have not published this just to be contrary; it is simply my favourite picture of my mum.  It shows an unsophisticated young girl lacking in confidence, eyes averted from the camera, very unsure of herself.  Cold hands are joined as if in prayer; please Lord, get me out of here.  This is a side of her character I never knew.

The real stars, of course, are the hats.  May’s is unusually modest but Emily’s Edwardian ensemble could win prizes.  I am guessing my mother is twelve or thirteen which dates the picture, taken on the seafront at Bournemouth, to about 1936; strange to think that within six years she would be married and starting her own family in the middle of a war.

Three GenerationsThis is the real point of the post; I can no longer convince myself that my mother’s identification of Emily from an earlier post (picture on left below) is really her.  Not only has there been a remarkable physical transformation in the space of fifteen years but her fashion sense seems to have gone into reverse, adopting a style which even the little boy on the seafront seems to find alarming.  And then there is Emily at May’s wedding – the picture on the right – first class millinery evidence.  Sadly, as my mother began to fade, she became an increasingly unreliable witness to her own history.


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