Monday 25 June 2007

On The Importance of Photographs

Guscott was a hamster.

  • Small and nippy.

  • Lived in a complicated cage that only MasterM was able to re-assemble.
  • Addicted to pine nuts.

  • Escaped and recaptured at least twice.

  • Much loved.

So far, so average. Everyone has known a hamster like Guscott.

When Guscott ground to a halt on his yellow wheel at the advanced age of two and a half his little body was lovingly encased in a matchbox coffin, decorated with messages for the hamster afterlife and some pinenuts for the journey. MasterM and MissM escorted him to the vets and we gave him to the very kind Veterinary Nurse.

To her credit she did not snigger when confronted with two weeping children and merely murmured "Do you want to collect the ashes tomorrow?"

I must have looked aghast because she quickly explained that it would not be necessary.

As we left the surgery MasterM asked in a quavering voice

"What will happen to Guscott?"

I had prepared for this moment. I spoke in language that he was familiar with.

"Darling, Guscott is going to have a Viking funeral."


I had not realised that eight year olds could shriek so loudly. I hurried them both to the car and then said in my most soothing voice

"Let's go home and look at the photos of Guscott so that we can remember what a lovely, friendly, funny hamster he was."


dear reader


  • Picture me searching fruitlessly through boxes and boxes of folders of photos that had not been carefully organised into albums.

  • Picture my children looking at me and knowing that they knew that I was a failure as a mother.

which is why

when we went to the shop

to buy Hatley

  • large and gentle
  • addicted to Shreddies

  • lived in an even more complex construction (guilt money)

  • escaped and recaptured at least twice

  • much loved

I made sure that every aspect of his life was fully documented.

It also explains why I am the one with a camera at family gatherings.

At the back of my mind there is a small voice whispering

"This could be it. This could be the last picture of us all together."


blackbird said...

Nicely documented, but I'm not a pet person...

Anonymous said...

Very true. You never know when you're going to lose someone, and photos take on a life of their own.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you have no idea how many times I've thought the same thing:
"This could be the last time we're all together in a photograph." Or at a dinner party, celebrating the mundane or the stupendous.

We don't know.
I try to hedge my bets by treating each occasion (and non-occasion) as "the last time."

Sans tears, of course.

You have a beautiful blog; I'll look forward to reading it as often as you write it...


Anonymous said...

Now I know why every family gathering photo is always prefaced with "This could be the last one of us all together". It gets increasingly un-nerving having just passed my sevetieth birthday!
Can't wait until August when the last of the offspring gets married and we should be having a temporary lull in family photography until the golden wedding