Following on from an earlier post I have borrowed another of Blake Morrison’s book title’s, And when did you last see your father published in 1993. This is the sixth form class photograph from Andover Grammar School with my Dad sat front row on the far left. Strangely, the convention seems to be that the girls are identified by their full names whereas the boys are given surnames only. The year is 1939 and the world-shattering events that we now read as history have yet to occur – even the smallest decisive moments might have turned out differently. I like to think that little Joan Hendin has a crush on my Dad – she is surreptitiously leaning on the back of his chair with her left heal lifted to apply pressure with her arm. Is this the great romance that failed, was I meant to be someone else. I have used this adapted Garrison Keillor quote elsewhere but it is particularly relevant to this possibility:
The stove stands in the middle of the floor where decades of dancers have stepped up and down to keep their feet warm and the benches run around the walls inscribed with old thoughts of romance, some of them shocking to a child, news that mother or dad instead of getting down to business and having you was fooling around planting big wet smackers on a stranger who if he or she had hooked up with her or him, you would not be yourself but some other kid. This terrible prospect from the past makes a child stop and think.
In truth I don’t find it a terrible prospect at all, just intriguing, at some point I am sure we would have all liked to be someone different. There are two possibilities though and the latter is a terrible prospect – either I would have been someone else or not existed at all; a definite case of the Rumsfelds (the unknown unknowns).
Some of the faces in this second picture are recognisable from the first – according to my Dad nearly all these boys saw active service and very few came back: