This is the earliest of Nancy’s albums with the first photographs being dated as August 1950. To put this in some historical context, this was the month that Princess Anne was born, the first live television transmission between Britain and France took place (“how very interesting” I hear you say), and also when Britain began sending troops to Korea – “The Forgotten War”.
What strikes me about the photographs in the first few pages of the album is that this is only five years after the end of World War II. This period of British (and of course world) history has always fascinated me because unless one lived through those times it is hard to comprehend the sense of loss that so many would have endured on so many different levels. For sure, there is empathy but I think even the most empathic of people eventually encounter that numbness ~ the limits of not having had those ‘real-time’ emotional and sensory experiences whereby we can truly know. How are people able to mourn when the whole world is mourning also? How did people who’d witnessed (and even taken part in) the most horrific acts manage to reclaim some normality in their lives. How did they (if they felt they had to) forgive themselves, forgive others, and try and move on with their lives? Where on earth do you begin trying to make sense (if there is any) of and move on from, that utter utter mess?
I can’t help but think of these things when I look through these albums. In many of the photographs in this particular album Nancy is travelling through Cumbria and Scotland with Jim, Alan, and Leddy (?). They all look like happy and adventurous folk ~ having fun, joking about (especially Jim).
I do wonder though (as I do with most old photographs taken in or around WWII) what the war took from them (because it pretty much took something or someone from everyone), and where did they find the strength to pull it all back. I’ve asked people this before of course, who had lived and suffered loss during the war and they all say the same thing ~ of just having to “get on with it”. If WWII showed us the devastation we are capable of, then it also showed our resolve ~ not only during, but afterwards too.