November 2006 Archives

I'm sorry Mum

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I can't remember exactly when my Mum got her first video camera. It was the early eighties though, and the camera was a monstrous 2 piece thing with the camera part connected by a cable to the back breakingly heavy video recorder that had to be lugged around on a shoulder strap.

We were all excited at first, until we realised the repercussions. I think I spent the next decade of my life doing my best to avoid that omnipresent all-seeing eye. It wasn't easy. Every birthday, christmas, holidays, any gathering of the family at all in fact, saw my Mum retreating behind the lens, trying to orchestrate events for posterity. How many times did we have to blow out the candles on the cake so she could get the moment just right on tape (and then once more for the ordinary camera too!)?

The end result was scores and scores of video tapes which haven't been glanced at since.

And then at dinner with my family on Sunday, with Mum absent in Benidorm for the week, my sister suggested, out of the blue, that we should sit down together and watch some of those tapes.

All of a sudden we found ourselves back in 1987. Here were my two youngest siblings jumping up and down in front of the camera desperate for attention. There was my elder sister struggling to assert her independence against Mum. My younger brother, so serene in the face of all the usual chaos around him. My elder brother, aloof, slim and with a full head of hair! Myself, the irritating know it all I always suspected I was at that age. And Gran, dear old Gran gone these last 5 years in all her fiery irritable glory. Even Barry, that useless, lovable, lug of a doberman we inherited when our great uncle died put in an appearance, cosying up to anyone who would clap him for a few minutes.

For the most part it was pure, unfettered chaos. We sat transfixed by these tapes for hours. It was absolutely wonderful to behold.

I'm sorry Mum. I'm sorry I got angry with you for never seeming to put down that bloody camera for more than a minute or two at a time. I'm sorry that I didn't think it would be worthwhile. I'm sorry I didn't realise the value of all those musty old tapes before now.

I don't think I've ever been happier to have been proven wrong. Even the annoyingly smug 13 year old me I saw last night would agree.