When Maria de Lourdes was a child, she would play by a small river with her older brother and uncles. They would catch frogs and jump rocks. Lourdes grew up to become a primary school teacher. She taught in many villages and towns. Her classes were very big and would chave children of many ages, learning on different levels. One a mouse entered the classroom and she got frightened. She jumped on a desk, screamed and all the children laughed.
Lourdes was my Grandmother. I thought she would live forever so it never occurred to me that one day these stories would just be in my mind as a fading memory.
All Grandparents have a set of stories they like to tell to their grandchildren and now I’m doing for others what I didn’t do for myself… I take a portrait and I record their voice. I ask them to tell me a story they like to tell a million times.
This is like a little time capsule and one day, when they are missed, their voice will always be there with a little story.
If your grandparents are still around and close to London, I would love to take their portrait. Drop me a line using the contact page and I’ll get in touch.
(…) From there we lived in a pre-fab, and all the Germans and different nationalities because it was towards the end of the war and they quickly built these pre-fabs, and you’d go to the cupboard and there was, you probably never heard of it, it was a thick liquid coffee called Kemp, was in a bottle like that, it was like treacle. You would mix it with water and milk. It was disgusting. I don’t know if there was ever a pot of jam in the cupboard. I don’t remember any of that, but this horrible condensed milk , which was a tin, probably that would go in the coffee. I was always, always hungry.
In the pre-fabs, out in the country, there were big houses that would accommodate big families and I was friendly with one group of girls that lived in this family. And their mom, I don’t know how she afforded it, maybe because the older ones were out at work, but when was family allowance day, she would go to the shop, which was quite a walk away in Waltham Abbey, she would go there and come back with rolls and Spam, oh dear! And I used to stand at the door at the back door and think, if only, if only I could have one of those…
Chip sandwiches, that was the most wonderful thing, have a chip sandwich!
And the only thing I can ever remember in my own home was having Spaghetti, must have been tinned spaghetti, with a bit of grated cheese that was put in the oven and that was like, Oh! wonderful!
And then on a Sunday, the winkle man would come ‘round… My parents would have that, maybe on a Sunday.
Because like, when I came out of school, I would have to go to the day nursery to pick up my young sister in a pushchair and go home and then chop wood for the fire… If she was a baby I may have been 7 or 8, in the coal shed, ready for when my parents came home… yeah…. And you went to school, there was never any breakfast, when you’d got to school they used to provide at probably ten o’clock in the morning, you’d have this little bottle of milk, and the you couldn’t wait to have the school dinners, you were just on a bench but the dinners were wonderful, because you did have lovely dinners and pudding and that was absolutely great, you know, but it was tough! It was very, very tough! (…)