“You shouldn’t have said that, Geoff.”
I took these photographs recently at New Brighton, Liverpool, England.
Here’s another one of my now and then photos. The first shot is of Waterloo Road in Runcorn, my home town. The second is taken by me and shows the same spot from as near to the same angle as I could get, 100 years later. Lots of deterioration is evident in this comparison. This part of the town has struggled in recent years and there are plenty of boarded-up windows visible nowadays. The building on the right was a community centre. The community ended.
Twenty-eight years ago I chiselled ‘1986‘ into my bedroom door just next to the light switch. You can see it on the photo above. I’d moved into that house the year before with my family. I moved out a few years later but my parents have lived there for nearly 30 years. The house itself is almost 150 years old. A few weeks ago, it was sold and now someone else lives there. A few days before this happened, I took these photographs.
Before I lived here, the longest I’d lived anywhere was four years. This place was the most important place in my life for a long time. When I heard that my mum and dad were going to downsize and move to a smaller place I had very mixed feelings. I knew that it was just a house, just bricks and mortar. I knew that the house had belonged to lots of people before it belonged to us; the deeds show the names of many different owners over the decades. I knew that lots of people would own the house after us and that we couldn’t own it forever. At the same time, I didn’t want to let this chunk of my past go.
We try to hang on to the past. Ridiculous because we know that everything must change. Even if we could hang on to the past, we will only live for so many years and then we have to let go, finally. I don’t know why we feel the need to do this. Maybe it’s to comfort ourselves in the face of an unpredictable future. I was dreading the day when my family moved out and someone else moved in. I took these pictures to try to take a piece of the place with me I suppose.
It was weird taking pictures when the place was half-empty and everything was packed up ready to leave. You try and imprint things on your mind so that you won’t forget them. Photographs help but they’re one-dimensional. You know that you’ll never actually walk into the place again. You see a lot of things, flashes of events that have happened in various rooms over the years. It all seems a bit sad.
Once it was all done, though, I was surprised how little I actually missed the place. I had thought that it would hurt to see other people living in ‘my‘ house. It did hurt a bit. Nowhere near as much as I thought it would, though. In my entire life, I’ve lived in a total of nine different houses. This was just one of them. Places don’t matter really. People matter.