Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Larry's Papers: Our Day Out


digital scrapbook layout 12ins x 12ins

Some of you may remember reading about my Uncle Larry. He was my Mum's only cousin on her father's side and about 21 years her senior. My mother was removed from her family at the age of eight years old. Growing up in an orphange and then a boarding school for physically disabled children, she lost contact with most of her family including five of her nine siblings. When I discovered Larry, about ten years ago, he was living in a nursing home and hadn't seen a relative for over twenty years. After his death, all that was left of him was a tatty cardboard suitcase containing the remnants of his life: several pocket diaries unwritten in, save for a few addresses and phone numbers; old bills and rent books; pay slips; invoice books that recorded just about every job Larry had carried out as a painter and decorator; hotel and B&B cards; unwritten and unsent postcards; a few letters (none from anyone that I know of); instruction manuals for household equipment; receipts for meals and rounds of drinks in hotels. Then there are the photographs of people who I never knew and whose names I will never know, none of them family and probably all long-gone. I found Larry's suitcase incredibly depressing and for a quite a while, could not bring myself to spend too much time looking at its contents. Seth Apter's Disintegration Collaboration inspired me to bundle up some of the utility bills and hang them out on my shed where, way past the finish date of May 1st, the elements are still working on them.
Last week, I took a deep breath and opened the suitcase once more. The people in the photographs are nameless and forgotten and yet, there they are: full of life and smiling for the camera; shouting "cheers!" at a Christmas party; posing in a jolly group next to their holiday coach; out of focus, walking and falling out of the viewfinder frame, in black and white and faded colour. Perhaps I can recover their stories by piecing together the remnants in Larry's suitcase? Of course, we will never know the real stories, the real connections between the items, but does that really matter? Surely what matters is that these people live and love and laugh again. The layout posted here is my first story and below are some of the items from Larry's papers that I have used to "discover" it:

Why should Larry save the top of a nasal spray box? Perhaps to remind himself of the name on his next visit to the chemist? I'm sure that my final box of papers will contain a few items like this. There are several unused paper handkerchieves in Larry's suitcase, along with the nasal spray box top, and with these items, I "found" my story. The photographs were clearly taken on different occasions but in this imaginary history, the flyaway tie and the fish and chip dinner happened on the same day. is Marjorie, emptying the contents her handbag onto the kitchen table, putting on the kettle and telling her friend Ethel all about her day trip to Conway...I'm hoping that your imaginations will enjoy filling in the gaps between the clues.

The handkerchief is from Larry's suitcase; pre-Decilimisation coins are scanned from my own collection; pill from Everyday Heros a freebie kit; background paper and sweeties are CU items; the postcard back is...the postcard back!


Tumble Fish Studio said...

Oh, I wonder what my life will someday be reduced to. Will it fit in a suitcase? I wonder. Quite possibly. This post makes me want to live life better than I am, bigger than I am. Beautiful writing and thinking and presentation! sigh You make me think all the while I appreciate your exquisite perspective. You're amazing.


Eva said...

Boah... I'm touched and impressed. What you're making out of the relics of a (maybe lonely) life. It's a sad smile and a confrontation with evidence. It is so much easier to enjoy this story from the view of not being involved. And I start comparing with reconstructions of this kind in my family. With the content of my drawers...

Leora Sanford said...

This is a very intriguing story...thank you for sharing it with us!!

Taluula said...

You have a wicked imagination Lumi. Great stuff.

Kimmie said...

I think I love Larry :)
Just living in the moment - He had no compulsion or obligation to leave a legacy - at least a legible legacy. Wow - what a guy :)

malacima said...

Great story!