And when did you last see your father

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.

The class of '39In 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 isterrible 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:

The team of '39


  1. Livonne · September 7, 2013

    I used to wish I was someone else… Now.. I’m really happy with who I am.. but it is an interesting thought to ponder on 🙂

  2. northumbrianlight · September 7, 2013

    Me too, in my case I think it is called growing up/’maturity’ although looking like J Depp may have helped a bit 🙂

  3. Tish Farrell · September 8, 2013

    spirits of the past, it’s good to keep them in our sights. Lovely post, Robin.

  4. LaVagabonde · September 8, 2013

    Love this post. The smallest of decisions – a glance or a word – can change the direction of one’s life and that of one’s possible descendants.

    • northumbrianlight · September 8, 2013

      Many thanks – “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”

  5. restlessjo · December 19, 2017

    She does have a bit of a possessive look, Robin. 🙂 🙂 But would it have stood the test of time? I doubt it. Times and attitudes were so different, weren’t they? Whoever hears of a shotgun wedding nowadays? Thanks for sharing!

    • northumbrianlight · December 19, 2017

      And many thanks for taking the time to comment, Jo. It is interesting and very useful to see where some of these conversations lead and how they might influence the final text – I am ‘market testing’ elements of GITW #2 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · December 19, 2017

      PS – when I think about it, there is quite a resemblance between Joan and my mum at the same age. What can I make of that 😉

      • restlessjo · December 19, 2017

        Funnily enough I saw huge similarities between my Mam and Dad’s second wife. 🙂 🙂 Do we have a type?

      • northumbrianlight · December 19, 2017

        Definitely not – I have to be careful what I say – my lovely wife reads this stuff and sometimes, so does the first 😀

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