Friday, July 28, 2023

Gladys Beanland - The Prequel

Old family photographs are a little like film prequels. Take, for example, this photograph of three young girls enjoying a day out at the seaside in the late 1920s. Two of the subjects are characters we are familiar with due to their starring role in that well-known epic "My Life". The one on the left is my mother, Gladys Beanland (you may know here better as Gladys Burnett, the name she used in the story of me). She is the same person who pushed my pram, cooked me my favourite food, darned my school blazer and smiled on my wedding photographs. In the centre is Amy Beanland, her sister, who somewhat confusingly changed her name at least four times during her long screen life. She is, however, the same character as the one who made me tea, sent me a ten shilling postal order each birthday, and looked on me wisely when she was in her late nineties.

I know these two from the part they played in my life, and until such photographs are found – until the prequel is released – it is so difficult to imagine their back story. They were young, they had futures that were alive with possibilities, they had thoughts and feelings that were completely independent to me. The third person in the photograph is unknown to me, to the best of my knowledge, she never appeared in any of the later, more familiar, stories. In itself, the photograph is fascinating. That fascination, however, is all the more because of what came after. Old family photographs are, indeed, a little like film prequels.

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