Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Whose story is it?

I've recently set up a webpage in the name of my late father, Leonard Maguire. For the sake of simplicity, I've made it a Blogger page, which rather implies that he is blogging 'from the grave' (or from Heaven. Ed.) That's an unintentionally comic idea of which he might approve (if he could grasp what 'blogs' are). It also reminds me of the story of Kynd Kittock going to Heaven, how she sneaked through the Pearly Gates when St Peter wasn't looking (it's in a poem thought to be by William Dunbar, about whom my father wrote a stage play 'The Wasting of Dunbar', in 1976)

The point of setting up the page is partly to provide background information for those who might listen to the forthcoming BBC Radio 4  Great Lives episode devoted to him, as championed by Bill Paterson (and side-kicked by me); the other reason is that, actually, he does have a wonderful series of stories to tell, and some day I'd like to tell more of them, on his behalf - i.e., in his words, and in mine.

A book, some kind of memoir? Why not? Perhaps a joint memoir with my mother, pulled together and edited by me. Both parents wrote screeds of biographical narrative, by request of their children. The story of their lives, working & private, covers the years from 1917, when my mother was born, to 2008 when she died (my father b.1924 - d. 1997).

Here's a photo of the happy couple, Frances and Leonard, in their first home together. Note the ubiquitous cigarette in my father's hand. Note the tie (he never wore one; this pic is from a rather stagey 'at home' series instigated and snapped by his older sister, Kay, visiting from Canada, c. 1956)  My mother, in the covetable yellow cardigan and intense red lipstick, looks to me impossibly young and beautiful. The tea-cups on the dresser on the right are from a Susie Cooper set. I think we still have some of them, and the stripey Cornishware jug.

The colours of the paintwork, the quality of the clothing they wear, their body-language, the presence of the 'home help' (I think) holding a pie (lemon meringue? apple?) resonate with me... however staged, the moment captured here by Aunt Kay makes me want to revisit the past, ask them about their lives, in one way or another.

(to be continued)

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