Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Branscombe and Me

Oh Lord! Fate has a way of catching you unawares, ripping your insides out and leaving you to sort out the mess and that’s what happened to me. Part of my recent inheritance comprises two rather tatty leather bound albums containing beautifully corner-mounted and annotated black and white photographs. I had been vaguely aware that these existed but have not seen them in the flesh since I was very small. They contain images of my smiling and carefree parents from their wedding in 1953 up until my birth a few years later and a little beyond. Each picture has a little caption inscribed on the black page in my mother’s copper plate handwriting giving locations dates and wry comments (she would’ve made a great blogger had she not died of cancer in 1971).

It was whilst leafing through the pages labelled ‘Honeymoon 1953’ that I found it, a picture of my parents sitting outside an inn, my father looking youthfully skinny and darkly handsome and my mother, radiantly blonde in one of her endless supply of 1950s dresses. The background building is classically ancient in a very English sort of way but it was the shape of the thatched roofs over prominent bays that began to stir a distant memory. The photograph was labelled ‘Branscombe’, a small town on the south coast, and suddenly it clicked. I rushed to where my own photos are stored and started rifling through them. Eventually I found it, a colour photograph taken by me in 1988 of the very same building almost from the same angle. The thatched roofs and matching thatched ‘umbrellas’ over the tables on the forecourt were unmistakeable. The place looked no different from one image to the other even though they were taken 35 years apart. The truth was; I’d stayed there as well.

The realisation struck me deep in my soul. I had stayed a night in the very same inn where my parents had honeymooned before I was even a twinkle and I’d never even realised. Spooky, but family connections run deep. In the 1980s, being young free and single, I and a friend had occasionally had a ‘road trip’ to wherever the road took us and it was during one of these merry jaunts that we had stayed at what now turns out to be the Mason’s Arms in Branscombe.

Guiltily, I remember overdoing the beers that night and feeling much the worse for wear the next day at breakfast. I trust my parents’ experience wasn’t quite so debauched, but sadly I’ll never know.


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Martin,I can tell it has special meaning for you.

musicobsessive said...

Thanks Barb - you're quite right. I just wish my parents were still around to find out more about it. It's always too late, huh?