13 June 2010


With Mum at Holyrood, Edinburgh 1957
I'm glad I wasn't an only child and that I had three brothers to grow up with. Continuing my work as family archivist, I have come across many photographs of my siblings and I. We lived in a simpler faraway world. In holidaytime or weekends we'd be out and about all day - bike riding, tunnelling into haystacks, digging clay out of ditches, visiting other children in the village, helping on farms, climbing trees, playing football or cricket, scrumping apples, catching fish or tadpoles in the nearby canal, building snowmen or bonfires. Looking back, I realise that it really was quite idyllic.

There were no paedophiles in those days, no bad men (or women) who'd whisk you away and the roads that passed through our East Yorkshire village were quiet. The doors to our house were only locked when we went on holiday. Like other parents, mum and dad didn't anticipate we'd ever meet danger in the locality. They just expected us home for tea.

Dad was a fairly keen amateur photographer. He processed his own films and printed the pictures himself. However, like most people he tended to take posed pictures of the family so I can't find any pictures of the dens we made or conker matches or caterpillar races.

Paul was the first son, born a year after our parents came home to England after the second world war. Robin was born in 1951 and I came along in 1953 though why they called me Yorkshire Pudding I'll never know. Perhaps I was the colour of one or maybe mum gave birth to me while she was making Yorkshire puddings. Simon was born in 1956.

As brothers, we mainly got along. We were and remain different from each other and our lives have followed different patterns. Sometimes I think that I am the one who is charged with maintaining the bonds between us. Among mum's papers I found a letter she addressed to all of us a year after our father died. In it she asked us to be friends and to look out for each other if she should die. Friends are changeable and transferable but brothers persist through the years. You just can't shake them off and for my part, I wouldn't ever want to.
Eiffel Tower, Paris 1960
Around Robin's Lambretta 1967


  1. So you're the little cutie sitting next to your mum in the first photo! Lovely photos.

  2. Elizabeth8:35 am

    These are wonderful,YP. Even after all these years, you are instantly recognisable in all three shots.

    You're right, life was very, very different; I could echo much of what you have said here and often feel saddened that my own four boys haven't been able to enjoy that same sense of adventure.

    Family is so important. I am so pleased that you maintain those connections with your brothers. I think your mum's wish for you all to look out for each other would be one most mums would wish for their off-spring. x

  3. I think I'm the one who does that in our family - - keeps everyone in touch with each other. Great photos.

  4. Even though the phrase "you can choose your friends but not your family " is true, I find that family ties are always the strongest. All families are crazy - some more than others but when the chips are down they are always there for you, aren't they?

  5. I had no brothers or sisters, but when I was 17, I gained three stepbrothers and a stepsister. I became the middle one of five. Only three of us are left now. Oddly, the two youngest went first.

    Your photos are wonderful.

  6. JENNY Yes. That's me. "Cutie"? I like that.
    ELIZABETH I share that feeling of frustration for today's children and how we seem to live in a more risky world - or was it always risky but we just didn't know?
    DAPHNE I guess some of us are born co-ordinators.
    HELSIE Precisely. You might have a row that lasts for years but the likelihood is that you'll be magnetised together back in the end. Ultimately, friendship is more flimsy.
    RHYMIE Thanks for calling my photos "wonderful" and I'm sorry that your family path had more unexpected twists and obstacles than mine.

  7. Thanks for sharing these personal family pictures YP.Envious is perhaps a strong word but I do admire tight knit families because unfortunately we're not in mine.I was very close to my late brother Benny but for reasons I can't understand the rest of us gradually drifted apart.X'mas cards of course and the odd phone call but that's it really.There are so many old photos of us happy together as kids but I often wonder what went wrong.My remaining brother and sisters all live abroad so a reunion is very unlikely unless one of one dies I suppose.
    Nice photos YP.You were & in all probabilty still are a handsome brood!I wonder if anyone of you missed having a sister in the group.

  8. JEAN You're right. I would have loved to have a sister. In my mid-teens, at an all-boys school, having a sister would have made it clearer that girls were people and not goddesses to pine for. Sorry your family ties have tended to disintegrate - surely this is mainly down to geographical mobility and the kind of world we live in today.


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