If walls could talk.
If concrete could confess.
If soul could seep through cement.
If only one of those monochrome apparitions could reach out and take me by the hand, leading me into a world of smoke and ale and revelation.
The woman stood by the door on the right of the picture is my great grandmother. The two little girls are my grandfather’s older sisters. The guy on the far left, in the bowler hat, is my great grandfather. The other two younger men could be family, I don’t know. Will probably never know. Posing with a football and a trophy of an unknown triumph, they remain silent, anonymous ghosts. Enigmas of imagination.
The building itself, its very brick and mortar, contains more than can be revealed in a two dimensional image. It contains that which is valued in meaning.
Ancestors of mine dwelt in that place between 1901 and 1939. A descendent of theirs also ran the pub for a short period in the 1950’s. What emotions those rooms must have absorbed. Laughter and tears resonating in time. My great, great grandmother died in there, as did her son in law, my great grandfather.
Behind those upstairs windows, in one of those unseen rooms, my grandfather was born. At the other end of life’s spectrum, two of his siblings died in there.
Happy times, sad times. The building stands in the photograph as a mausoleum of memory.
I would love to be able to go into that pub today, buy a drink and take a seat in the corner. Shift my sight and listen to echoes. Watch the ghost of an old man skip through those doors as a little boy. Perhaps whistling the tune of a song that one day, many years in the future, he would sing to another little boy.
Hand me downs of blood and mannerism and story.
Alas the pub no longer stands-it fell victim to the slum clearances that transformed whole neighbourhoods and scattered communities. I’ve been to the site where it originally stood. Ironically there was another pub there, empty and boarded up. Perhaps its own ghosts were walled up inside, caught in the shadows. Memories in a new mausoleum, waiting for people of their line to come searching and shift their sight.