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