Christmas is the time of year when families gather together
get drunk, fight and remember why they don’t bother keeping touch the rest of the year get merry, fatten themselves of turkey and sausage meat and go through photo albums and old video movies. Or cine movies, if I were writing this blog thirty years ago. To be honest, we don’t always do the photos and videos bit. But this year we did. I’ve cut away considerably at the 25 or so minutes of the original.
Some of the video is really just family stuff. But if you’ve been following along with me awhile, maybe you’d like to join me on a trip down memory lane. Other parts of the video might interest you for other reasons. Let’s see. Take a seat and get yourself comfortable. I may have cut the video, but it’s still over five minutes…
We start off one summer at least 30 years ago. Probably in Bayhurst Woods, north London. We often went there for a picnic. This clip features mum, brother, sister, aunts and cousins. And grandad. I’m wearing the grey top with a big red stripe down the middle. Just after the 45 second mark we jump to our back garden. It’s shot on another day, but with the same cast. Plus two new members. Sadie, our German Shepherd. She didn’t take any nonsense. A true GSD. With her younger buddy, a collie called Charno. He and I were good buddies. But he died of a broken heart just weeks after Sadie departed for Dog Heaven.
At the 1 minute 40 second mark we jump back in time. A long way back. I was minus 4 years at this stage, or somewhere thereabouts. Meet my grandfather, grandmother and uncle. My mum was about 18 and cooking up dinner. The dinner table still exists. I’m using it now, as my computer workstation. On to the 2 minutes 40 seconds, and another collie dog. I always assumed that our dog Charno was named after our house, Charnwood. I have now discovered that this wasn’t the case. Here is the original Charno, who lived in Italy.
Now the video gets a little more interesting. It is the late sixties and my grandfather is blazing a trail. Package holidays by air had started in the 1950s, but remained prohibitively expensive for most people until the 70s and 80s. Only the wealthy took package holidays by air in the 60s. The wealthy and employees of British Airways. Or British Overseas Airways Corporation as it was at the time.
He worked for them for more than thirty years. The benefits were great by todays standards. Generous pension and lots of free flights. Alas, my grandmother had a terrible fear of flying, and despite some early trips to Italy and Prague and elsewhere, he never got to make the most of those flights. Shame. Still, how does Pisa look to you?
I know the quality of the video isn’t too spectacular. But there really isn’t much in the way of amateur tourist video from the 60s, so don’t grumble. Grandad has on a shirt and tie. You can’t see his shoes, but you can bet they were polished good enough to use as a mirror. He was in the army in WW2. Some habits die hard. Straight tie, check. Starched shirt collar, check. Polished boots, check. Fly into fascist country and start shooting, check. Luckily, it was just video this time…
On to 4 minutes and 17 seconds. Who hasn’t been through London Heathrow? Seriously. If you haven’t landed at LHR, then your credentials as a traveller are laughable. Maybe. It’s long been the worlds busiest international airport. But you probably won’t recognise this Heathrow. This Heathrow has an awful lot of green and much less grey concrete than you’re used to. It wasn’t even in London proper back in the day. Of course, it wasn’t long before it was swallowed up by the growing metropolis.
Finally, we approach the end of this video. Are you still watching? Excellent! This is the best bit. We are back to a family shot. I can give you a fairly precise date for these few seconds. This video was shot on the 29th October 1972 by my grandmother. She records my grandfather pulling his car up the driveway. He jumps out and goes to open the back door, to let the lady out. It was how things were done back then. Out gets my mum, after a 10 day stay in Perivale hospital. And, for just a fleeting second or two, is me. The reason for her hospital stay.