A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


An Affair To Remember
Saturday, September 05, 2009

Yesterday, Saturday (yes I am posting the Saturday blog today Sunday) was a day with lots of promise. But it did not end too well. It is my only excuse for calling it a night and postponing the posting to Sunday.

Ale helped Rosemary organize her closet and cleaned out her own closet from the days, so long ago, that she lived with us. That morning we had had extra thin pancakes with Ale, Lauren, Rebecca and Rosemary. Rebecca likes, butter, confectionary sugar and cinnamon on hers while the rest of us either used fruit syrups or plain sugar (that’s me). After the late breakfast Ale mentioned she needed new jeans that fit her and that she had not been able to find any. Rebecca pointed out her own purlple ( I question that colour) jeans had come from Urban Planet and that she should try the place. So we all went and I noticed racks and racks of clothing that looked like stuff that might end up at Value Village in a week or so. There was lots of grungy looking plaid stuff that suggests that Seattle Grunge is back. The music was mostly of the drum variety, sort of like disco without music. I was not quite at home. But I was delighted to see that Ale found three pairs of jeans that fit her. I was also happy to note she did not pick any of the purple ones.

Ale left for the memorial of a friend and from there she drove back to Lillooet. I went to Videomatica and chose Splash and Watership Down. When I returned Rebecca informed me loudly that if I had brought Beau Geste she was not going to see it under any circumstances, “I am still too young (12) for that movie and I don’t care if you saw it when you were 8.”

They enjoyed Splash particularly as we devoured a large Brandywine heritage tomato served up with Maldon flaked salt. We had an angel hair pasta dinner with Hilary. Lauren adores angel hair. We watched Watership Down which is still scary after all these years.

It was then that the evening became sour. We should have never brought up the subject of Rebecca quitting everything she has started

1. Ballet
2. Riding
3. Piano
4. Modeling
5. Painting

Not to mention her loss of interest in her digital camera. It seems that I will die with my own personal talent and cameras as company in the coffin.

Rebecca’s family insists that scholastics (school) are the single and most important aspect of her life. I believe that in this day and age high school barely guarantees a job at Macdonald’s. I keep remembering my new friend’s (Simon Ogden) dictum, “The world is not changing. It has changed.” It is a world in which more than ever what we did as children and what our expectations were as children do not apply. If you are 15 and you want to be gymnast, a ballet dancer, a tennis player, a swimmer, you are too old. The profession of journalist, as well as my own, magazine photographer, is obsolete.

Rosemary and I both agonize on what may happen to a little girl’s potential when that potential is not fostered. At the same time we realize that as grandparents we really don’t have much of a say. While I cannot convince my depressed Rosemary I live in the hope that my friend Abraham Rogatnick may be right in the end when he explained that the background and experience of taking Rebecca to Mexico, Argentina, Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas and her exposure to gardening, photography, good films, concerts, etc, will be a base that will remain and one day may serve as a stepping stone to a life of her satisfaction, whatever that might be.

Part of the problem is that Rebecca thinks that committing dance is committing to the life and profession of being a dancer. Committing to the piano is committing to the life and profession of being a pianist. We don’t see it that way. The piano is simply a excuse to learn to read music. Reading music is an exercise that exercises the mind in ways that we may not suspect on how useful they could be. Dance instills grace and an ability to get along with people at close quarters.

When I was 20 I made a list:

1. Doctor
2. Lawyer
3. Teacher
4. Engineer
5. Architect

I did not know that a 6th could have been and ended up being photography. Time was kind to me. Will time be kind to Rebecca?

As I walked around with no clear goal this Sunday morning I happened to turn on the TV to channel 46 and I saw the last 20 minutes of Leo McCarey’s 1958 An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. No matter how many times I have seen this film I am unable to hold back tears during its shameless tear jerking 10 minutes. And every time I see Deborah Kerr, with her red hair, “convalescing” on that sofa on Christmas day (or is it Christmas Eve?) I attempt to juggle with whom I would want to spend life on a desert island, Grace Kelly or Deborah Kerr?

Even when I remember that in 1985 I flew to London with Ale and Hilary and we met up with Rosemary who had gone to Europe on a buying trip for her boss from Mariposa. Rosemary and I went to see Deborah Kerr at the Old Vic. The play was The Corn is Green. It was an awful play. With help of some booze we had had earlier in the day Kerr and The Corn is Green put us to sleep. My image of Kerr was shattered. She looked like a grandmother. That was 1985.

Now it is 2009 and I am now a grandfather twice over. Rosemary is a grandmother, too. Rosemary does not look like the young blonde seen here with a couple of pigeons at Trafalgar Square. I have to be careful not to look down when people take my pictures. There is that double chin!

We had a little argument today. Rosemary thinks that if I bought a digital camera my business would boost up and I would be able to connect better with my students. I am unable to explain to her that I don’t teach the mechanics of taking pictures but something else. I am unable to explain that the initial expense in a digital camera would take perhaps a few years (how long will I be taking pictures? ) before the savings in buying and processing film would be matched by the savings of not using film.

But Rosemary did make an unsettling comment. “Perhaps if you had a digital camera you would go out and take pictures again. You would take more pictures.” Does Rosemary believe that with a new camera in hand I would somehow bring passion to my photography? Is she implying I have lost it?

There is a line, perhaps one of the last lines in An Affair to Remember where Deborah Kerr (she cannot walk as she has had a tragic accident) tells Grant, “If you can paint I can walk.”

As I watched and heard this I remembered that Rosemary was above in bed not being able to walk. In a week she says she is going to try using a cane. “You have to buy me one, Alex.”

Does Rosemary know something I don’t know about photography? But I do know whom I would choose to spend the rest of my life on a desert island. It wouldn't be Grace Kelly or Deborah Kerr. It would be my own grandparenting partner and wife.


Previous Posts
The Italians - Part I

Lauren & Rebecca's Slipping & Dancing Socks

Rebecca Stewart & Old Gardeners

Dam Of Wonder

Fading Blue Birds On My Birthday

Abraham Rogatnick's Manifesto For Staying Put

A Failure Of Our Reactive Media

Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick Switches Off - 1923 - 2...

The Last Thursday For The Thursday Girl

Paul Anka, Peggy Lee, Diana & John Wayne

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