Slightly organised photo floor-takeover

I have failed to complete my July photo challenge in time.  I’m on a bit of a roll though and hope to (sort of) finish two or three days late.

I took the photo to illustrate where I was in the photo-sorting process at the end of July.  Since then I have made use of an excess of A4 plastic wallets and small coloured stickers.  Most photos are now either in their correct year pile, awaiting confirmation from friends as to when they got married/when certain holidays were taken, or are in their “probably that year” pile. 

I have not felt inspired to sort them for albums or display, though a lot of my favourite holidays and experiences are already in albums and my digital photos are sort of dealt with by being in albums on my computer. 

I separated photos into 22 years, ending in 2014, which seems to have been the last year I printed a load of digital photos and used one of my film cameras.

Quite a few people who know I’ve been trying to sort photos have said that they want to do this but that they imagine it would take too long.  I have wanted to do this for years and ended up thinking that if I set myself a challenge within a month, I would stand a chance of completing it.  I also predicted I would feel nostalgic and melancholy, which I was kind of dreading.

Although I’m writing this before I’ve finished, it hasn’t gone at all how I expected.  I decided to sort them chronologically, which would have been fine had I heeded my mum’s advice to always label and date photos.  There then materialised some obvious groupings, eg I lived in Japan for two and a half years and the photos that aren’t in albums are nigh on impossible for me to date, so a “Japan years” plastic wallet (wallets) now exists.  Likewise for my time at university in Reading and then Mississippi and for the years I had a very sociable allotment.

I have thrown out hundreds of photos, mainly out of focus, of (uninteresting) location unknown and generally awful/repetitive ones.  I still have hundreds more though. 


Time-wise, I didn’t get going until almost half way through July, so in some respects it’s not surprising I didn’t finish.  I started in earnest by taking them all out of packets and piling them up.  I then spent a few days pondering the task of sorting them as impossible.  I wrote out a year on a piece of paper for the years I figured needed sorting, 22 of them, and started trying to sort them into piles within the years.  That was when I started emailing and texting a lot of friends to ask when they got married, had children, when we went on holiday, etc.  It’s been a very good month for catching up and reminiscing with a few people I hadn’t been in touch with for a few months or so.  I then sorted them into events or sort of clusters and wrote a sticker to go on the plastic bag for the event.  This hasn’t amounted to as much labelling as it might sound like occurred and was one of the easiest aspects of dealing with the chronology.

Surprisingly, I haven’t dwelled on certain pictures or the joys of my rose-tinted 20s, but I have found it interesting how large some piles are compared to others.   My largest piles of photos, a lot of which are travel photos, have actually been in my 30s. 

Another surprise is that, looking at friends more than me, a lot of them, the vast majority, look better now they’re older than when I first met them in their teens or early 20s.  Looking at them from a chronological perspective is really interesting.  I can see individual styles forming and it’s really unexpected and fascinating to see.  Pretty much all of us have gone up and down in weight too and it’s also interesting to see how much of a difference that makes to who looks best when.

To feel I have completed the challenge, albeit now late, I would like the rest of them to be in the labelled plastic wallets (eight years to go) and back in the dreaded huge white box that there is no way I can now abandon!  However, I don’t feel inclined to do anything with the photos and I feel more detached from these photos than I could have imagined possible before starting this.

Once I’ve thought more about my emerging controversial thoughts on photos, I think I probably will do something with a few of the photos; I just don’t know what yet.

For my August challenge, as I will have little or no work, I thought something suitably holiday-esque would be in order and, as I’ve been trying to read the same book for three months, I decided to read for at least 30 minutes every day in August.  It may not sound like a challenge but, now I have a shorter commute than from either Folkestone or Whitstable, when I read most mornings and evenings, I barely read now and I have never been good at reading at night time because I’m always sleepy and neither want nor need to read.  I am too good at using free time just sitting and staring into space so maybe this will get me using my sitting and staring time more productively.  Surely I can’t fail this month’s challenge?!


I am perilousl­­­­y close to smugness as, yes, I can now reel off the 199 capital cities I decided to learn for June’s challenge. 

Not only do I now know the capitals but, after about two weeks of not being able to retain the names of about a third of the capital cities, I realised that attempting to establish a photographic memory was futile.  I then started to be a bit more creative with my connections.  For example, Palau, being an island in the midst of the Pacific must surely be muddy, thus the capital is Negerulmud.  Similarly, I could not get Podgorica in my head as being the capital of Montenegro.  In the end, I got it with “-gro” as being key and I did grasp that the capital was then PodGORica.  Tenuous at best, but it worked.

I am ludicrously pleased with myself and have been informing people of the capital of countries they mention.  I suspect this could be considered annoying.  Bring on the quizzes and obscure capital questions … while I can still remember them, rather than just remember that I used to know them.

At the beginning of June, I convinced myself I would never be able to retain the countries and corresponding capitals, let alone spell them.  Around about week two/three, it suddenly clicked into place and I have enjoyed the learning process, despite it being a straightforward, uncomplicated memory challenge.

DSC05651For July, I want to deal with another kind of photographic memory, as I plan to sort through a massive box of my photos.  I have photos in various places but, as this box is so big, I want to be fairly realistic and just aim to sort through that.  That will mean sorting them into categories, most likely: throw; put in an album; frame; keep in packets.  I am not going to aim to do the framing, album-making, etc, by the end of July, just get them ready. 

In an ideal world, this will lead to the rest of my photos being organised at a later date and some DSC05650albums/pictures created.  Unfortunately, I predict bouts of melancholy about the passing of time, how slim/young/carefree etc I used to be.  However, a bonus would be to get rid of the enormous box they’re in to make some room in the far-too-full cupboard (I may even be shamed into addressing the accessibility issues with the cupboard) in which it currently occupies almost half the spare floor space.   


{28/06/2012}   Favourite old TV adverts

As a child I loved TV adverts, probably because there were only two channels of them in those days!  Now I hate them and usually turn the sound down when they’re playing.  I saw a few old adverts being played at the British Design exhibition at the V&A recently and since then I intermittently think about old adverts I used to love and which I can actually remember, at least in part.

I’ve mentioned it before but the Levi’s advert, the one with a rather strapping, young Nick Kamen dressing down to his perfectly white boxer shorts while at a launderette under the excited surveillance of women waiting for their washes, to the sounds of “I heard it through the grapevine”.  Eye candy and a great soundtrack.

Was it Carling who did the advert with the squirrel doing the tightrope run?  Of course it was, for the whole advert was this squirrel doing a tightrope sort of obstacle course (again, I recall some good music) and at the end finally comes the brand: I bet he drinks Carling Black Label.  Fantastic squirrel performance.

I remember the Tango adverts too, not that I particularly liked them; I just liked the concept of a big orange person slapping your cheeks and declaring you’ve been tangoed!  Did they slap people’s cheeks?  (Refer to yesterday’s blog on my waning memory!)

The Flake advert with the woman eating a crumbly Flake in the bath was also of interest to me because I was always amazed how her steaming bath wouldn’t have melted the chocolate and, as it is the “crumbliest, flakiest chocolate”, I don’t know how she didn’t make anywhere near as much mess as I always made while eating a Flake!

The Milk Tray man.  My kind of man, prepared to do daredevil stunts, dressed in a tuxedo, all in the name of making sure the lady gets her chocolate fix.  Memorable for manliness display.

Oh, the Nescafe Gold Blend adverts, the ongoing saga of the neighbours who clearly wanted to jump each other.  I liked that the adverts ended with suspense and you wanted the next installment.  Did they ever get together?  I like to think they did.

T-Mobile.  Ok, so not an old advert, but I really, really enjoyed the one that was filmed at Liverpool Street station where all the dancers were mingling amidst the late morning travelers but broke out into choreographed dance when music blared from the speakers.  I think it was a genius idea and it was fun to watch, spotting different people’s reactions.

With the exception of the Levi’s advert and the T-Mobile advert, the rest are all food and drink.  Is that interesting or just coincidence?  Probably coincidence and by virtue of the fact I am interested in food and drink so maybe pay more attention to such adverts!

I have drawn a blank as to other adverts.  I know there are more.  I am picturing snippets from an Old Spice advert: waves crashing and that amazing classical music – I can hum it but no idea for present purposes what it’s called.  I also remember the Hovis advert of the little boy delivering bread up a steep cobbled road.  You shared his excitement as he finished his bread round and cycled joyously back down the road.  Ooo, remember Um Bongo, Um Bongo, they drink it in the Congo?  I suspect that would come under the guillotine in today’s society, if only because Um Bongo might not have been available for sale in the “Democratic Republic of the Congo”!

Ah, I’ve gone all misty eyed.  I also know that I have missed some absolute corkers.  I might have a YouTube search this evening.

                There are a lot of things I associate with being middle-aged (precise age range unknown, maybe 40s as that is mid way to 80-98- but in my 40s it will be 50s!).  At 37 I feel I am in the transitory age between being “young” and “middle-aged”.  I don’t think it’s too bad a place to be as I feel I can get away with both.  But while I snigger at a friend “doing something middle-aged”, in reality the odds are it’s something I too do or quietly aspire to!

                Recently, a lot of friends have moved out of London, me included.  Ignoring marriage and children, there seem to be a lot of “middle-aged” things that go with leaving London, for example.  For the past few years, I have collected elderflowers and made cordial and/or alcoholic lemonade.  This is not something my much younger self would have considered acceptable.  But boo hoo to my younger self, you were missing out!

Along with baking, cooking and foraging (sloes, elderflowers, blackberries … actually I think that’s as far reaching as my foraging has gone), I have also discovered gardening.  This to me, showing my age here, was all a bit Percy Thrower, something parents and “oldies” did.  But now, not that I have a garden (though I have had a terrace with lots of pots and an allotment), I really enjoy gardening, particularly vegetables and herbs.  It is enormously satisfying to go from seed to plant to plate.

I now also have a pet, a cat called Izzy.  It took me years to decide to get a cat.  I’d really wanted a cat for years but the thought of not being able to go away for impromptu weekends, etc, and the general responsibility were huge issues.  I got her about four years ago, can’t imagine not having her, but do feel a tie.  But the reality is that I am more responsible and I enjoy being at home more than I ever used to.  But maybe the latter is also because I’m more settled than I ever used to be and I have furniture and other proper grown up stuff.  I even have a car, though for some reason I still think of that as being a luxury, something I’m far too young to have.  I don’t know where that thought came from because, on and off, I’ve had a car since I was 17, I just feel incredibly grown up to have a car, especially now I have a vaguely sporty BMW!

I earn more, eat out more, have more clothes, shoes, bags, accessories – materialistic, I know – but I also have more friends, more importantly more good, long-term friends, and my social life is much more about spending time with them than in pursuit of meeting new people.  For quite some years I felt boring for not really wanting to go out to clubs or even clubby pubs.  Now I feel happy about preferring a quieter pub or going to friends’ houses or a nice restaurant.

I have also joined the National Trust and, a few years back, English Heritage.  And, do you know what, I’ve had some really cool days out as a result!  I definitely day trip and picnic a lot more, and those are things I would no longer turn my nose up at.  I am much more open to suggestions and willing to do new things now.  Well, not in the more reckless, carefree sense but in a more open minded and less obviously mind broadening way, ie traveling and living abroad without much planning, packing or sorting out defined my younger interpretation of broadening the mind!

The biggest downside other than the steady decline in my memory and physique (but that’s a whole different issue, worthy of its own misery post!), in some respects, is that I am a lot less tolerant of other people and poor service.  Maybe this is a good thing but I do rant and moan about such things with a little more enthusiasm and repetition than is perhaps necessary.  I put that down to being more confident about my sense of self, more appreciative of money, ie that I worked for every penny of the money I spend, and to having had time, years of adulthood now, to gain experience.

So in conclusion, my “youth” was fun and experimental but my years of being between young and middle-aged are all about getting to know myself and abandoning hang ups about what I should and shouldn’t do, enjoy and behave like.  It is also about accepting that in your 20s, for example, you knew sweet F A about pretty much everything, but probably had a great time not caring about that!

                I am trying to organise my digital photos.  This is an epic time-consuming endeavour and I haven’t even got around to sorting through ones I’d like to print. When thinking about what I’d save if my home were burning down, beyond any humans and my cat, it’s photos I always say I’d save.  I suppose if I were really clever I’d have them saved remotely, but that’s not what I’ve been thinking about to trigger this post.

                My photos are my proof that I looked the way I did, that I did certain things and they are, perhaps most significantly, an aide memoire for people and experiences.  I have two areas of my lounge wall taken up with photos of friends.  Most people who visit have looked at and commented on the photos, whether of themselves or other people.  I love those photos, though in part because they are testament to the fact that at times I can galvanise myself into action and do things, from getting the photos printed to actually putting them up.

I know that a lot of my childhood memories are triggered or enhanced by photos.  My parents took a lot of slides and photos when I was growing up.  Sometimes I worry that my memories are based around certain photographs rather than what I remember.  But even if that is the case, it’s lovely to have that memory trigger.  I would feel a large part of my past had been erased if I lost all my photos and maybe it would more often make me call into question my memory for their would be no proof to certain things.

Nowadays, despite having a selection of digital cameras, film cameras and a mobile phone camera, I don’t take that many photos.  It seems a bit of a chore sometimes to take pictures.  But then I look at photographs I did take and I’m pleased I did and wish I’d taken more.

Sometimes when I go on holiday I don’t take a camera with me because I feel that without a camera I see more.  I went through a phase of feeling like I saw events through a camera lens rather than with the naked eye; no photograph can ever, I think, capture a moment like your memory especially if it’s a fleeting sight that is never going to translate well as a distant blob in a photo.  Your memory may alter events as time passes, but sometimes, so what.  My seeing dolphins leaping alongside the small boat I was in off Bali could never have looked as good through a lens as it did sitting there bobbing on the sea, with the sun rising, hearing the water break as they moved.  I have heard myself describing a magical sight and feel that the recipient has got a sense of my awe.  I have then showed a photograph of the same thing and felt people kind of sink, probably thinking, “Oh, was that it”.

I think photos of yourself are fantastic.  You can look back on rose-tinted years and see they weren’t so perfect, you can look back at yourself knowing you thought you were unattractive or pudgy at that stage and realise you weren’t and you can see how you change.  It’s fascinating.

I like to think I have a photograph of everyone I’m friends with on my wall, maybe it’s to remind me who and why my friends are who they are, maybe it’s to remind me of good times (it’s not like you take photographs of horrible things, and even if you did it’s unlikely they’d make it onto a “happy wall”) or maybe it’s to project an image of who you are, or at least who you’d like to be, that person laughing with a group of friends for example.  I have one such photo, taken about 12 years ago.  I know it’s not the most commonly witnessed version of me but I am sitting at a dinner table in Japan in the middle of four or five others.  I have clearly said something hysterically funny because everyone is laughing and looking at me, the originator of this great witticism.  That may not be the me witnessed on a daily basis, but it’s nice to see on my wall, and it is a snatched moment in time.  I sometimes like to think of my life, of our lives, based on moments in time.  That way, the bad stuff can be archived and the funny, fun and warm moments can be engrained in our memories forever, a kind of best-of summary!

Perhaps it’s a bit excessive dedicating a blog post to London City Airport (LCY), but I am sitting here, mid-afternoon (writing this the day before posting), in a very civilised waiting area. There are loads of spare seats, all of which are comfy ones, and it is largely quiet. Once again, I am identifying a growing snob in me!

I like leaving from LCY (I’ve probably passed through here 20 times) because it seems to generally run smoothly and it’s never been LGW- or LHR-busy (though it is a lot busier in the evenings and mornings). It is unusual to see uncontrolled children, there are no alcohol areas designed to look like real drinkers’ pubs and there are a lot of seats. I quite like smaller planes, I enjoy the view from the planes as they land and take off and I like the fact it feels more like a train station than an airport.

Looking around now though, assessing the demographic, there is an abundance of men, suited men, most of whom are using their laptops or are on their mobiles. There area lot of erect wheelie case handles, poised to be pulled the short distance to the plane. I can hear coffee bieng ground, there are quite a few French style beer glasses left on tables and I see more Kettle Chips being eaten than Walker’s; seriously, I’ve just done a tot up!

I know it’s unfair to compare a tiny airport to some of the biggest airports in the world, but as I’m neither going to Bangkok nor Marbella, it’s refreshing to not have to endure holiday makers. Mind you, I did my usual trick of arriving early at the airport, kind of forgetting that there is next to nothing to do at LCY except wait in comfy chairs, use the free wifi, browse WH Smith, spray on some perfume and drink overpriced (£3.80 for a cappuccino? Really?) coffee or beer from fancy glasses. But it was worth it for this people watching time!

I also find it quite intriguing that there are houses, a Victorian row of terraces no less, about 20 metres from the entrance to the airport, standing at which are armed security/police. How cool would that be, you could “pop” to the airport for dinner in Paris or some such. I like to think that the people who live there have at least made use of the proximity to an airport. But I bet they were pissed off if they’d lived there before there was talk of an airport being built here!

One final thing about LCY that has always given me cause for private smiles (that sounds pervy but it’s not!) is that it always, always makes me think of the 1980s kids’ TV show, Jimbo and the Jet Set. Jimbo used to run down the runway and he’d always struggle to take off, like I imagine I would if I were a flying person. Because of the short runway here, I always seem to animate the planes into Jimbo (I’m really not kidding!!) and imagine them running full pelt towards the end of the runway then giving a final burst of energy and an almighty sigh to lift them up. Let the running commence, my plane is boarding!

{09/05/2012}   Passports

I found my previous passport, it’s full of stamps and memories of a more exciting ten years than those visible up to year eight of my current passport. I think this sums up how I think of my 20s: travel and adventure.
I love the idea of a passport as a travel record. It pains me that you no longer get stamps for EU countries, then my current passport would seem far more exciting and I wouldn’t feel so rug bound and lacking excitement. When an Australian friend and I drove around parts of Poland, Germany, France and Czech Republic, she got stamps galore, I just had a memory of the excitement of border crossings. I know it’s a bit silly to want a mere stamp in a little book, but I have never stopped finding border crossings thrilling. Merely crossing from one country to another (and, no, airports don’t count and neither does the “You are leaving the UK – Bienvenue en France” type signs around the Eurotunnel entrance) is something momentous, an occasion of the utmost excitement … to be marked by a stamp of confirmation. Such stamps also allow you to say really tossy things to friends while you’re standing in airport queues, such as, *flicking through your stamp-ridden passport*, “Gosh, I don’t know if there are any free spaces for a stamp … oh, look at that *stop flicking*, I forget [yeah, right] how bizarre the stamp for North Korea is”. Most annoying.
By virtue of being eligible to have a passport and it being straightforward to get one, I feel I have a duty to use it. It’s a bit like voting in that, as a woman, generations before me risked their lives to allow the likes of me a right to vote. So I vote and appreciate the fact it’s easy for me to vote and that women fought extremely hard to make that the case.
On the rare occasions when I am not in possession of my passport (usually for passport renewal or visa application), I feel a great sense of loss and I am conscious that a freedom has been taken away from me. I remember sending my passport away a few years ago and actually holding on to the envelope for as long as possible before finally dropping it into the letter box. I then felt panicky and reassured myself that if in the next few hours I felt a need for my passport to be returned, I could meet the postman when he emptied the letter box. Really quite pathetic, I know. Then about two days later I had to turn down work in Paris (it would have been a horrid job that I probably wouldn’t even have done, but that so wasn’t the point).
My passport expires in about two years. Writing this has made me think that I could combine the end of my 30s with the filling of my passport and the broadening of my geography knowledge; it appears to be all about the collection of stamps but really it’s more about having adventures and convincing myself I am as exciting as I rose-tint myself as having been during my previous decade! Then my 40s can be spent fretting about my carbon footprint!

{24/04/2012}   Nostalgia food

Last night, as a cheeky late-train-home energy boost, I had a walnut whip. My overriding feeling was how small they are. But I think they always were quite small. I don’t even like walnuts that much, it’s just the novelty shape and sof mallow that makes it so exciting. Recently, I seem to have been eating quite a few things for nostalgia purposes.
A few weeks ago I made pineapple upside down pudding. I wouldn’t go quite as dreamy eyed as to say it transported me back to my childhood, but there certainly was the feeling of a fond memory of days when my mum baked a home made pudding for just about every day.
A few years ago for a birthday party, I had a retro food afternoon whereby everyone bought or made food from their childhood. The flat was inundated with the likes of iced rings, cheesy wotsits, teacakes, viscount bars and other snacky type foods. There were also a few Frey Bentos tinned pies (I don’t think I ever had them as a child but they were never supposed to be haute cuisine!), a jar of that dreadful sandwich paste (which I do recall being smeared on bread and taken as the occasional packed lunch sandwich filler. There is a dim recollection of actually quite liking a few flavours but I know the fishy ones were revolting), some Vesta meals and then an array of homemade things, ranging from vol au vents to meatloaf.
As exciting as this vast array of oo-do-you-remember-them food stuffs was, none of us were that enthusiastic about eating them. The home made stuff was eaten and enjoyed but I guess none of us are so keen on processed food anymore and it all seemed to be a triumph of aesthetics/bright colours than taste. Oh well, it was fun. Until I got left with loads of biscuits, crisps etc. And I really must chuck out that jar of sandwich paste – remember the lid had to be twisted off to pop, a sign of freshness!
On the subject of crisps, it has often bothered me that few – in fact none that I can think of now – people share with me a fond memory of pig crisps. I have no idea what they were called but they were 3D pig shapes, loosely resembling bacon flavour. They were thin but crispy and rather tasty. Or they might have been horrid but I have the impression that they were things of greatness and wonder.
I suppose nostalgia food falls into two categories: home made stuff and snacky stuff. The snacky stuff is best remembered through the medium of conversation. But recently, I really have enjoyed beef stroganoff, lemon meringue pie, coq au vin and I am desperate to recreate, from an old Marguerite Patten cookbook, the fruity curry I am often going on about! I guess the nice thing about such dishes is that they do evoke just a little bit of a childhood memory of nice meals at home, of days when all you had to worry about were boys and homework … or maybe I’m rose tinting that too!

There is a US TV show called Cheaters. The premise is that someone who believes their partner is cheating on them employs the services of a private detective agency, Cheaters, specialising in this field of cheating partners. The love rat is then filmed in action (nothing too rude that I’ve seen!) and the edited footage is shown to the distraught cheated partner and a confrontation ensues/is staged (at the love rat’s wedding to the “other woman” in one high drama episode).
I am not sure how I have ended up seeing chunks of this dreadful show more than once, it is horrible, especially seeing people publicly humiliated. I have ranted about reality shows before but now I am questioning the purpose of such shows. Yes, they draw in viewers, they are cheap to make … oh, that’ll be why.
But “thanks” to such shows, I am aware of social practices/beliefs in certain pockets of society about which I previously knew nothing. My horizons have broadened, yet I feel my affinity with my own people, as it were, is diminishing as a result. I don’t feel I fit in to society, or rather perhaps I think more about where/if I fit into it. I wonder why I didn’t used to feel this disconnected but I now think it has something to do with TV programmes like that (maybe a bad example as that show is American, but we have Gypsy Wedding, Made in Chelsea (apparently it’s not scripted) and other real life “documentaries”) which depict society in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable and far removed from any connection to an idyll of life in Britain depicted in, say, The Good Life or Darling Buds of May, even My Family (another issue, another unreality, but probably a much better one to absorb).
I feel that TV is making extremes seem normal. I mean, look at Shameless (it’s scripted but distressingly based on reality), it seems that the kinds of people Shameless was written about then see the programme and draw inspiration from it.
Yes, I do feel more aware of people’s interests, obsessions, lifestyles, etc, but I don’t know that I like this heightened awareness. I worry that young people in particular look to TV for inspiration, for trends, for ways of fitting in. When confronted with shows about warped/niche/controversial ideas of good taste, lifestyles, norms, etc, isn’t that what they draw inspiration from? I don’t want to just sit and watch documentaries and history programmes to be educated, I want to watch well-scripted series that are fairly light but intelligent. I often watch TV for escapism, and yes I have seen some of the dreadful programmes mentioned above, but I find the escapism element lingers and makes me feel disturbed and either out of touch or disconnected. I am pretty sure, in fact from Facebook alone I know, that there are a lot of other people out there who want to see intelligent, humorous dramas, for example. Why isn’t there a show like This Life anymore?

Over the past three days I have seen two school friends, one I’ve probably known for 27 years and the other for a seemingly impossible 31 years. However, while neither of them are friends I see most regularly, they are two of the easiest people to just gabble away with for hours on end. We have also known each other since way before we really became the people we are now.

I think the friends I have made since university are more reflective of my post-education self; most I have met through travelling and a few through work. All of them I have chosen to be friends with. I am lucky that most of my school friends went to the same schools as me from five to 18 so I still have quite a few “old” friends, ie we had a long time to become friends so more chance of staying friends. We have all gone very different ways. I doubt our paths would have crossed and we would have become friends had we not stayed in touch past 16 or 18, and had Friends Reunited then Facebook not existed for those with whom contact was lost for a while after school.

Many years ago, I went alone to the wedding of someone I’d known from about three years old. I only knew her and her family at the wedding. My friend, the bride, introduced me to her closest friend, someone she met way after we first met. It really struck me that I know the bride as someone she might hardly recognise as the close friend she met when they were both working adults. But she knew the bride as the person she is now. I still think of her as the schoolgirl, but she now has a proper grown up job, a husband and two children. Whenever I think of her (it’s probably apparent but we hardly ever see each other as grown ups), we are about five or six years old in a grey and yellow school uniform clustered around the outdoor drinking fountain in our school playground. I guess we are still friends because of the significance of having known each other so long. I am glad we are friends still but we really don’t know each other as we are now.

I don’t think I revert to being more like I was at school when I’m with old school friends, but there is something ever so slightly different about spending time with people you’ve known for, as far as my memory serves me, ever. Maybe in part it’s because you know their family and can share distant memories of childhood experiences, significant because it’s hard to remember things about yourself unaided. In fact my friend last night reminded me that she didn’t really have curry at home as a child but she remembers eating curry with sultanas and apple with sliced banana on the side at my mum and dad’s house for my birthday. There is potentially a vulnerability to you with old friends because they know so many things about you in your early stages of development. But I know just as much about them!

I am not for a minute distinguishing between friends I’ve known from school and those I’ve met later, each friendship is important, in fact essential, and unique. I thought a lot about such things recently, particularly having been through a lot of old photos. I have friends from all key stages in my life and that makes every single one of them a reminder of who I am, how I got to be who I am and that at every stage of my life I have collected along the way some unloseable “souvenirs” worth infinitely more than all my photos and nick-nacks.

et cetera