If anyone has ever undertaken the task of sorting, digitising and cataloguing family photographs (and if you haven't done it yet, you should do it now before it is too late), they will know the importance of those scribbled words on the back of a photograph : they are worth their weight in printing ink (if you have recently bought a new ink cartridge for your printer you will appreciate the scale of this claim). If you are the type of person who adds witty subtitles to your everyday snaps - power to your elbow. In a hundred years time someone will no doubt give thanks for your scrawling. The worry is, of course, that as fewer and fewer digital images are actually printed off, there is no canvass for such historical doodlers to perform on.
Anyway, the little photograph reproduced here was small, tatty, scratched and bent. Such imperfections can easily be overcome with the help of Photoshop. The real treasure, however, was the description on the reverse :
"10/8/47 : Edie and Mother. She wanted to get dressed up but we told her it didn't matter for snaps"
The Edie will be Isobel's mother Edith. The mother will be her mother-in-law, Sarah Shaw. The reporter, no doubt, will be Isobel's father Raymond. Small-scale social history at its best.