Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pet Sounds 

Mum is gallivanting in Cornwall, which means I’m back on cat feeding duty.
Cats need more than mere meaty chunks in jelly to sustain them, of course, so to put some value-add into my visits I’ve been delighting them with a selection of Beach Boys favourites at the piano -
I may not always love you, but long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it, I’ll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I’d be without you. Ouch!” -
while they purr along in harmony and dig their claws into me.

On top of the piano, beside a book of Chopin’s Nocturnes - “Love From Ted. Xmas 1942” - there’s a rather formal family portrait taken at the old house by a professional snapper. I don’t remember a time it hasn’t been there, mainly I suppose because there isn’t one.

Dad, in his mid-fifties, wearing a suit and horn rim glasses and more solid than I ever remember him, rugged around the shoulders, looks older than but not entirely unlike Harold Lloyd. He has the air of an egg-headed boffin about him, a government scientist maybe, spending his days discovering planets at Jodrell Bank, naming new stars in his tea breaks, cataloguing universes on his fingers and toes.
Mum - late thirties? - looks well. No sign of the horrible onslaught of illnesses about to knock her for six over the next few decades. She bounces Sibling B on her knee, and around her are four other siblings, in shirts and ties or posh frocks, according to gender or personal preference.

Their collective expression says ‘contenders to be the first British family in space.’ It speaks of unknown destinies and futures poised to unfold. I think the photographer was trying to pull off a ‘Kennedy Clan meets very minor royal family’ kind of vibe.
It must be 1963, maybe ’64. Beatlemania will have just been lifting off.
I won’t be making an appearance until 1966, a very good year of course. Pet Sounds, Paperback Writer, a dog called Pickles.

I recently asked Mum why there are no family snaps with me in them.
“Well. By the time you arrived,” she laughed, “we’d already done all that. We sort of lost interest in that kind of thing.”

Ho hum. It answers less questions than it poses.

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