“And this was when you first started playing cricket…and this was when you and your sister went to Stonehenge for the first time,” the list went on and on as we moved from one wall to the next.
In stark contrast to my wife and me my parents just adore filling the walls of their house with family photos. In fact not just the walls, almost every surface, every table, bedside cabinet, well pretty much every vertical and horizontal space. I don’t really know why they even bother to paint the walls in the house; they have “family wallpaper” covering almost everything. This is the exact opposite of our house. We use the excuse of, “well we have just moved in,” which worked for the first few years but we have been in our “new” house for almost seven years. The excuse is wearing a little thin.
Quite often we get frames as presents, mainly from my mother and probably as a motivation for us to start actually putting photos up, however these frames remain empty. Well not all of them are empty; some of them still have those photos that you get when you buy the frame already in them. You know the ones I am talking about, the black and white photos of a loving couple looking romantically off into the distance as if they are characters from a William Wordsworth poem. We even had one of these “Wordsworth” photos on the wall for some time until we finally got around to putting our own, slightly less romantic, photo inside. When the excuse about the new house had died I moved to the excuse of, “nobody prints photos anymore,” and brought up the fact that we live in a digital world and that our family prints are all on display on Facebook. Not a very convincing argument I know. “And this was the photo when you did the advert for that German shop in Dubrovnik,” continued my mother. I half heard her as I gaped at myself in full Technicolor on the Stradun. Believe it or not, and most of you will find this hard to believe, but I actually once posed for an advertising campaign for DM! I know…I can’t really believe it either. But here on my mother’s living room wall was the proof. And it brought memories flooding back. “How the hell did they choose you,” I can hear you all yelling. The answer is by default. DM wanted to advertise their products to an international audience and in order to do so they had decided to shoot foreigners in recognizable locations around Croatia.
From my memory they used the amphitheatre in Pula, the main square in Zagreb, the Riva in Split and the Stradun in Dubrovnik. I was chosen to walk down the Stradun swinging a DM carrier bag. It was the highlight, and lowlight, of my modelling career. And it was quite probably the end as well. In the end the photos, my photos, weren’t chosen by DM as I didn’t look foreign enough. Maybe if I were wearing a bowler hat, drinking a cup of tea, driving a Mini Morris, holding a copy of The Times and swinging a cricket bat I would have passed the, “you don’t look English enough” test.
Then I spotted a photo of the young me, aged around six, chewing on a Black Jack. Drumsticks, Fruit Salads, Banana Skids, Fizzers and my favourite Black Jacks, were the sweets of my youth. We would save up our pennies and treat ourselves to these brightly coloured sticky sweets. Give us the chance and we would eat them from sunrise to sunset, or at least until out teeth fell out. “Oh how I would love to taste one of those Black Jacks again,” I sighed. To my surprise and horror I could. These sweets had long since disappeared from the shelves; however one company had re-launched them and branded them as Retro Sweets. I was now officially retro!
As soon I discovered this I sped down to the shops and sought them out. I was imagining the sticky sweet flavour, drooling over the candy of my dreams. I bought the biggest bag I could find, it felt like half my body weight in retro sweets. Scrabbling like a madman through all the rainbow coloured sweets I found it, the Gold Medal of all sweets. Massacring the wrapper like Freddy Krueger I throw the Black jack into my mouth. “Argh, this is bloody awful, what idiot would eat this,” I leaned over a rubbish bin and spat out the disgusting sweet. I guess some things are best left in our memories, or on the walls of our mother’s houses, and not relived.