Sunday, 30 June 2013

My biking grandparents!

As part of my Coursera course entitled The Camera Never Lies, I am required to complete a number of reflective tasks.  I'm really enjoying the process and am looking at, and thinking about, images in a wholly different way.  Task one of the course was:

Reflective Task 1

In the lecture, I ask you to review the photographs which are special to you, and consider to what extent the circumstances in which those images were taken give them importance. Now stand back, figuratively, and consider one of these images on its merits as a photograph. How far does that image have meaning to you because of it's history, as opposed to its aesthetic as a photograph? Many technically 'terrible' images are prized because they capture 'that moment.'
This is the photograph I chose to think about and comment on:
It is a photograph of my paternal grandparents, Mary and Arnold Haley, taken in about 1929.  Aesthetically, it's a poor photo, even making allowances for the early year!  The front part of the bike is missing, my granddad isn't looking at the camera, and they are positioned in front of the privy in my great-gran's back yard!!
However, despite it's shortcomings, I love this photo!  I remember how shocked I was when I first saw it as a young adult, long after the two people featured had passed away.  The reason I was shocked was that, whilst I could clearly see that these were my grandparents, this image was so at odds with my memory of them!  When I knew my grandma and granddad in the late sixties and early seventies, to my child's eye, they were already old (in reality, they were both only 62 when they died in 1970 and 1973 respectively!).  They were very old-fashioned and quite strict, especially my granddad, who I was a bit scared of!  In truth, I had reason to be; my abiding memory of him is when he was teaching me about the dangers of batteries and he asked me to put my tongue on the metal part of a big, square 9V battery!  As an innocent four-year old, I did as my granddad asked!  I can still recall what it tasted like and the horrible sensation I experienced.  He thought he'd taught me a valuable lesson.  I don't think it even crossed his mind that I would never have chosen to lick a battery of my own accord!! 
Anyway, I digress.  The fact is that my grandparents were old in years and old-fashioned in their attitudes to children, in what they wore, and in how they behaved.  Life had not been particularly kind to them and this was reflected in how they were and, probably, in their early deaths, too.
So, when I found this picture of them, after I got over the initial shock, I was really happy to know that they had had a life when they were young!  They both came from mining families and had grown up without much in the way of home comforts.  My grandma, at the age of 19, looks happy in this photo.  They are both wearing the fashionable clothes and shoes of the day and both have the latest hair styles.  I've got no idea if this was my granddad's bike, or if it belonged to someone else and they were just sitting on it to pose for the picture, but I like to imagine that, during their courtship, they zoomed around the Yorkshire countryside, feeling the wind in their hair and leaving all their troubles behind them! 

1 comment:

  1. A bicycle ride makes me serene. I feel so happy and lively. It makes me more humane. If you ride a bicycle you won't be depressed. Instead you will celebrate your life.

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