There are two people next to me looking at shiny things which appear to be images of scenery and people in roughly 6×4 inch pieces. They’re holding them in their hands and smiling. There’s no laptop, phone or iPod anywhere. I’m strangely affected. My brain twists and churns… and then I remember. Photos. I used to hold PHOTOS too. I used to hold real photos, real memories that I could touch and smell and never delete, unless I tore them up, burnt them or physically threw them away.
They seemed more real somehow, than anything I “remember” now, stuck not on my walls, but on a series of hard-drives… passed not around a table of friends, but emailed, shared in galleries online. Even if you make somebody smile with a photo these days, you rarely see it. You rarely see that smile. The memory is shared but it does nothing to enhance your OWN memory. It stays as only you remember it now. A flyaway thought. Something quite disposable.
Something that’s barely even had the chance to become real.
I remember holding photos and laughing as each memory came flooding back, maybe slightly blurred, perhaps partially covered by my own pink thumb in the corner. I remember when I would hand my rolls of film into Boots on the Spalding high street, and an hour seemed like hell to wait for my photos to be ready. It was killer, killing time. I had no phone to distract me, no digital games, just the jangling change in my pocket and nothing much enticing to spend it on. Sometimes I would sit on the bench outside and read a book.
I remember how me and my friend Claire would take our unopened envelopes of 36 prints to the Wimpy Burger restaurant opposite Boots, order strawberry milkshakes and snort them out through our noses as we laughed and laughed and laughed at everything we’d forgotten was on the film.
I think I’m going to have to get more films developed. Hold more things in my hands. At least print more digital photos out.
Make more memories real.