… but not forgotten. This is an unusual image, unique among the family archive for its outward display of affection. Their emotional roles were reversed; my dad was the soft place to fall, my mother the disciplinarian. My upbringing was unbalanced – “just wait until your dad gets home” held no perils for me.
They could argue enthusiastically and, frequently, I was the subject of the disagreement. My dad was a constant voice of reason but his exasperation could, in extremis, set him afire. Ultimately though, he was always fiercely loyal to mum and I learned, too early, not to depend on anyone.
And yet, I still miss them both.
Jonathon Meades captures this generation perfectly in An Encyclopaedia of Myself :
Two world wars, economic depressions, genocidal dictators, material privations, the ominpresence of death … enduring such stuff is not propitious for the embrace of affective ostentation, for the desire to get in touch with our inner entitlements, for the infantile need to share our pain, for the comfy validation of our self-pity, for the slovenly annihilating of our restraint, for the quashing of our shame.
For the public exposure of our past, for the tortuous excuses we make 😉