This is one of my favourite photos, for many reasons.
We’re having a picnic. As you can see my mouth is full of bread and cheese. You can’t thank goodness see the bread and cheese but I can remember it well. Not quite a Proustian moment but getting there.
I am wearing my first ever t shirt. It was brown with little black poodles all over it. I got it as a present from a person I was crazy about and I wore it constantly to show my constancy. He didn’t return the compliment. Obviously.
Unusually for me at that time I am wearing trousers. My mother wasn’t too keen on trousers but I was eighteen and feeling very emancipated. It’s hard to believe now that wearing a very ordinary pair of Marks and Spencer trousers was actually an act of rebellion.
And the whole ensemble was pulled together by a rather fine leather belt which I had bought in Poland that summer. Those were the days!
This particular day however my father had taken his brother Waldi (who had come to visit him in London for the first time since the war) and me for a trip to the seaside. Tatuś used to love going to the seaside but he usually preferred Bournemouth (six miles of golden sands) or Eastbourne (the dullest place on earth). So going to Bognor was an adventure. It was a beautiful day, just the three of us. Waldi was very jolly and talkative and my father was relaxed behind the wheel. I was travel sick in he back of the car, but that was par for the course.
Talking of pars and courses – we arrived and went for a walk on the promenade and in the gardens, where we came across some crazy golf. Ever the sportsman, my father insisted we went round a couple of times. I think I lost to them both quite gracefully, grateful that this was one of the few games I can participate in without totally disgracing myself. To be honest I remember really enjoying myself. Whenever I see a crazy golf course now I rather nostalgically want to play. No one else I know is keen, however.
Then we went for our picnic. I love picnics. There is something very special about the combination of sun and grass and bread and hard boiled eggs and salt in little screws of paper.
Waldi was a photographer by hobby and he took millions of photos. Mostly good ones. And so he took this one. One of my happiest days. Yesterday would have been my father’s names day. I am so glad that he didn’t have to witness Brexit.
He was a real European. Born in Poland, at different times in his life he mastered German, Ukrainian, Russian, French, Italian and English. Made to travel halfway round the world he learnt to communicate with everyone. He was totally inclusive and would be horrified by yesterday’s “names day present”.