Well the last posting was about saying goodbye to our great friend Sheila, tinged with guilt and much sadness at missing her funeral. This one follows a similar path; a farewell coupled with a hint of sorrow and some regret but I hope this will be more uplifting. Here perhaps we have something to celebrate and smile at. Unless I’ve really fucked up.
Like all of us trying to safe-distance we are spending hours at home filling time, not always productively. But we’ve been scrubbing down the whole house and laundering daily to keep things, as well as our hands, as clean as possible at casa Leonard. One job, however, has been bearing down on us for ages and over the last few days we’ve tackled it, at long last. I need to take you back to our move to Italy back in 2006. One of the things we’d taken with us was our huge collection of photos collected over our lifetime, all boxed up, rather loosely. By that stage mobile phones had been incorporated cameras and I don’t think we took another image with a camera after that point. But our collection of printed images still seemed to grow, albeit far more slowly. And everything got stuck in files, boxes and drawers.
Then cancer struck and we had to leave our home in Italy for over 3 years. Dampness got into the fabric of the house and became absorbed into the skin of everything. When we eventually returned to open the place up, we had to scrub down every surface with bleach to remove all traces of mould. We also had to throw away almost all fabrics and soft materials because of the musty smell they’d absorbed. The photo collection reeked as much as anything but we couldn’t throw all our memories away so we stuck all the pics in plastic boxes and brought them back to the UK a few years ago and dumped them in Emma and Stephen’s garage (sorry guys) whilst we got around to dealing with them as soon as poss. Here we are several years later with some enforced time on our hands. So on Friday we took a short journey (against HMG advice) and went and liberated all the boxes (albeit having to safe-distance from our beloved family – a bloody pain).
We did have a lot of photos; faded black and whites of older family members, pics from our childhood, our youth and then our marriage, the kids, lots of work-related events stuff, holidays, parties, christenings and weddings, tons of (early) grandkids stuff etc. We’d decided to digitise the collection – to capture everything on my mobile then upload it to a safe virtual location – an extended version of the Cloud. Once done we could bin the musty originals and at some point do any amount of editing etc on the new digital imagery. So, sensible and contemporary.
The thing is I’m a bit of an analogue guy. I love books and newspapers and actual artwork and music on albums because I like the look, sound and feel of the real thing. It’s all about the senses I guess. And I like to handle, flip and look through photos in assorted sizes of filmic paper because it’s just such a tactile experience. And this is a view of what we were faced with – hundreds of photos spread over the dining table waiting for us to browse through, then capture and discard them…
This wasn’t an easy experience. Many of these pics we hadn’t seen for years and it evoked tons of happy memories. For example we must have uncovered something like a hundred pictures of us with Lawrie and Sheila having fun over drinks or a meal, at parties, on holiday, during visits, helping me build my tall wall ha! It was a bit emotional and a highly engaging process and I have to tell you if it wasn’t for the musty smell I just wouldn’t have done it. I came across a picture of mum when she was about 4, our wedding pics, a shot of Becksy taking her first steps, more of the girls growing up, some great times with our friends, baby shots of all our grandsons and so on. There’s so much of you invested in these photos and every one is evocative.
Eventually after two/three days we’d captured everything, uploaded it all to the Cloud and with a heavy heart stuck the stuff into our recycling and refuse bins…
Now we had a day to spare before the bin men came to collect the refuse. I double checked the the Cloud files and found that the first batch of pictures had been uploaded successfully. Reassured I deleted all the images from my mobile phone to free the memory to allow me to capture the remaining images (I was actually looking forward to having a relatively free phone memory for the first time in years). I then captured the last batch of images and uploaded them to the Cloud. Hurrah! One final check of the Cloud files to see all was ok before I deleted the last bunch of images from my phone. And I discovered that the first pictures I’d deleted from my phone had also been deleted from the Cloud. Eh? I called Apple and they explained this was the norm. The phone and Cloud were synched and actions on one would be repeated on the other. I had visions of having to re-do the whole process again but happily I was able to recover the deleted pics and reinstate them on the Cloud. I was under the impression that the Cloud was there as an independent storage facility but no matter all my images are there safely, I think.
Just as well because the bin men came this morning and took those old photos away…
They’ll be in landfill as I write this and if the Cloud thing ever fails then we’ve lost all that imagery forever. Fingers crossed that Microsoft, IBM, Google and Apple and whoever else provides these huge data centres don’t fail me with their digitised promise. I’m still not entirely happy but this is the way today right? And I have to admit those pics did whiff and take up quite a bit of space. Incidentally have a guess how many pics I had to capture and upload. Just shy of 5000! I said there were a lot of memories. And not one I can now touch and feel. Hey that’s progress folks.