I never imagined that it would be so difficult to come up with something to fit this weeks' Sepia Saturday theme - Books. Over the last few days I must have searched through almost every old family photograph I have, looking for elusive volumes, only to find that they are as rare as hens in a dental surgery.
If I spread my net a little wider and go outside my own family I can find a scattering of books, but even these tend to be used as props. This picture from the studios of J C Gray in Paddington, London shows what looks like a father and two sons. The father, who seems to want to be seen in profile, appears to have a long body and short arms and the two volumes seem just the thing for keeping him evenly balanced; like a folded envelope shoved under a short table leg. What the volumes are, I have no idea : but a book is a book in the land of the photographically illiterate.
If I look back to my own youth, there were some books in the house: but precious few. My mother had a Mrs Beeton's Cookbook and my father had two Daily Mail pictorial volumes on the history of the world wars. There was a gazetteer entitled "Romantic Britain" and a curious book entitled "Everybody's Book Of Fate And Fortune" These volumes were proudly displayed on the top of a cupboard between two marble bookends.
I am sure that my childhood home was no different to hundreds of other northern working class homes. Form books would be more prevalent than great books and stories were what you listened to on the radio rather than read about in a book. But that doesn't stop me fantasising of a youth enriched by literature and learning, of a young lad who would save his tuppence spending money, don his best sailor suit and go off to the second-hand bookshop to buy a new supply of precious books.
We are a lucky generation: one way or another we have access to an almost limitless supply of books, whether they be printed on musty old paper or a bright computer screen. We are also the first generation to have the time and the means available to write our own histories. And fantasies can be turned into historical fact with a little help from Uncle Photoshop.
THIS WEEK'S SEPIA SATURDAY THEME IS "BOOKS". TURN THE PAGE AND VISIT THE SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG TO READ ALL ABOUT IT.