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Slides indoors – part (1) – Bum

To pass the time in the duller days of winter, I have been spending considerable hours indoors scanning old photographic transparencies/slides to preserve them for posterity in virtual cloudy places. I’ve mentioned this before, and it is likely to be an ongoing task for some time yet. I am perhaps one-third of the way through now.

The photos are nearly all taken by my father, who only occasionally handed the camera to my mother to take a candid pic of him. He had a knack of taking unposed pictures (something I have inherited, much to the annoyance of my offspring and also my own irritation now that I realise we have very few nice posed pics of our family as the kids grew up). Dad’s photos would often involve my poor mother chomping on a banana, or scowling against the sunshine, or turning away to try and hide some unwise sunburn. A family group would rarely include more than one person actually facing the camera. How many photos are there of our behinds? Millions – seemingly.

But here’s a thing. Amongst all the rear-views, I found a picture of a lunchtime picnic stop on one of our many organised group walks back in the early 1980s. A group of people, mostly – as per usual – facing away from the camera. One of them in perfectly-fitting Wrangler jeans, just the right relaxed posture with one bum-cheek slightly higher than the other, and with long glossy hair down to her waist. Just what I wish I’d looked like, how I sometimes imagined I could be. Then – bloody hell! I realised – it actually was me! I double-checked the clothing with other pictures where my face was visible – yes, it was quite definitely me.

So that explains a lot about those years! (And the less said about that the better. Sorry.)

It’s probably one of those lovely flukes. There are very few front-facing pictures of me in which I look even slightly acceptable to my own hyper-critical eye, and  perhaps the rear view is generally preferable anyway – an easier win.

I have never been good at choosing clothes, despite being hugely picky. The number of photos there are of other people’s weddings when I was in my twenties and wearing some godawful dress and silly hat – truly dreadful! Of course, some of it is a fashion-dated thing which is fair enough, but my friends generally managed to look a whole lot better than I did, both then and with hindsight.  I had no clue. I guess I didn’t really mind (much) or even notice (…much?) at the time, but with hindsight I feel I may have missed an opportunity to make the most of youthful assets.

Pull yourself together woman! It was my mind – my wit and intellect – which was important, although this mind did, of course, need to include the superpower that is ‘splitting a restaurant bill without recourse to a calculator’, the preparedness to take on administrative tasks for others, and an almost unfailing ability (yeah ok, apart from once) not to drink myself to the point where I needed anyone to carry me home.

I have found a few other gems so far: my pre-sixth form party (a precursor of the now popular School Prom I suppose) photo showing a sylph-like but modest and wholesome adult-child – I don’t suppose this was height of fashion stuff at the time, but at least it was flattering; and a chance snap of a skinny me alongside my best mate at university in her best tennis whites. We both look relaxed and carefree and most definitely not provocative or flirtatious, but there seems to be more flesh on display than I remembered.  (And how on earth DID I think that bright turquoise fitted towelling shorts would be ok? – haha, I remember now that I had a pair in pink as well! Again, this may explain some things.)  For some reason, I don’t feel up to sharing these – but I am so inordinately impressed with the bum shot that I have been unable to self-censor this time. 

Ah well…’Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone*

*’Gone” or at least hidden beneath a layer of post-baby fat for 20 years and then somehow redistributed so that no amount of dieting or exercise can recreate it. 

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