The Box Of Photos

He wanted to write about the past and he thought and thought and decided to start his story about the past with a young woman who uncovers a box in her grandmother’s attic. In the box there are photos which belong to the young woman’s great-grandmother and nobody has looked at them for years. The woman’s mother has never seen them, and when they both go through them carefully together they find that there’s a dark secret in the great-grandmother’s closet.
That would do. It would be a start. A way in.
And so he did start, and he called the woman Annie and decided that her mother should be called nothing, that just calling her “her mother” would be enough, and that the great-grandmother should have a rather elegant name. He chose Sonia, because it sounded to him like a name with class, but it also sounded like it could be a name associated with vice a couple of generations ago. The name Sonia gave him the clue to the great-grandmother’s secret: she would be a madam and there would be a compromising photograph with her and a rather famous politician all the younger children learn about since they have begun studying the early politicians of this country – an man with a thick, dark, beautifully manicured beard, usually depicted in those high Edwardian collars, but in this picture depicted in not a hell of a lot. It was surprising to see a historical figure like this. Like a retrospective scandal, where there is still shock at salacious details, but the whole is seen through the prism of the historical view.
Did this mean that the young woman and her mother, called “her mother”, were actually descended from one of the fathers of our constitution? Probably not. That wasn’t likely. None of her family had the man’s nose, which was a distinctive nose, and besides the scene in the picture didn’t really suggest that kind of relationship. It wasn’t intimate in that way, and it certainly wasn’t romantic. Sonia was fully clothed, and holding a whip, so this was a different story entirely. It was about blackmail and ruining reputations.
Yes, perhaps that was it. Reputations.
Of more than one person though. Yes, this would improve the story he wanted to write – not the politician with the cultivated beard and shining, intelligent eyes looking at the camera while thick leather buckles were fastened at his ankles and wrists, no, the man writing the story in the first place, the one who wanted to write the story about the past: the man who could very well be me, but I won’t tell you if it is me, and I might not even be a man anyway, but probably am, and authorship is fluid and contested anyway isn’t it to it hardly matters really.
But were more politicians implicated in this thing? The men who wore frock coats and drank claret at luncheon – men who, let’s face it, used the word luncheon – and talked about honour and duty and cared deeply for the country that they were basically creating: were more of them to be found with a bit in their mouths? Did some have tattoos not normally seen when they were fully clothed? Was there some kind of ring of sexual intrigue and perversion?
Or did the man just look like the famous man from the more famous photos? And was the woman holding the whip actually Fred, Annie’s great-grandfather, dressed as a woman?

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Published in: on March 31, 2014 at 7:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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