Sunday, 30 December 2018

I Sit Near Helena Bonham Carter

Taking inspiration from the recent observation that I am neat (I Welcome A Review),  I have been unpacking the rest of what I moved from my old house, and organising it. The stuff has sat in bags, plastic boxes and bin liners for over two years, awaiting these last few rare days in which a space of unallocated time has coincided with a bout of energy.

Amongst the possessions which have followed me around since childhood are two black and white school photographs from 1974 and 1979. Once every 5 years, the entire school population - junior and  senior schools - assembled on the netball court. Benches were dragged out from the gym, chairs lined up for the teachers to sit on and some sort of photographic scaffolding erected so that all of us (around 700, I think) could stand or sit whilst the cameraman took 2 shots on a rolling camera.

The photograph my parents chose to buy came unframed, rolled up and secured with elastic bands. My father recommended that I write a list of the names of everyone I knew on the back, in case I forgot, but instead I drew a biro ring around my friend Rachel.



Forty-four years later, I can remember the names of all the girls in my class. I'm sitting next to Hope, who is sitting next to Deborah, who is sitting next to Sian, who is sitting next to Clare who is sitting next to Vicky who is sitting next to Rachel.

I wasn't sitting next to Rachel in 1974 because I was taller than her, and we were arranged in height order. I can confirm that I was the tallest in the class because I can't quite be sure of the name of the girl on the other side of me, as she was in the year above. In this section of the photo, all you can see is a strand of her hair. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure she was called Amanda.

There's no problem identifying the girl in the year below, sat in the middle of the front row, cross-legged and sitting up straight. She, like me, had a fringe and she also appears in the photo from 1979.

We've been sitting close to each other, Helena Bonham Carter and I, in this photo for years, though by the looks of it, those of us in the second row might have been kneeling for most of that time, as we look rather uncomfortable.

Whenever I've moved home and come across it, I've unrolled the photo and studied it, before putting it away again. It's time, I think, that I got it framed.  


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