Saturday, June 01, 2019

How memories were...

... or how the magical properties of old prints and photographs can confuse and delude in a dangerous but pleasant way: 

This photo arrived in my Twitter feed today: "Blue Train, Scotland, 1960s". The striking thing is that everyone on the train looks relaxed, stylish and cool in a proper 60s way. Was it a set up, all preened and posed? A promotional shot for British Rail or some tourist flyer? Whoever posted it didn't think so, just another day on the train during some random Scottish summer, snapped at the right moment. A wonderful everyday moment.

The funny thing is that a photo like this plays on your mind and quickly starts to influence your memories (well mine). Despite the knowledge of my own experiences, it seems that the past was not only sunny and strangely colourful but people looked nice, behaved in a civilized way there was an obvious peaceful, simple happiness just about everywhere. Things were safe, clean and predictable and somehow better. The trains probably ran on time and you could get a seat. OK I know this is an illusion and total rubbish but if you're of a certain age and you look into this picture for a few moments you'll feel your own back pages and thoughts of the past start to blur, distort around the edges and just drift into a, dare I say, happier place.

None of this evidence based, it's all about feelings and a mild unconscious influence, perhaps just wishful thinking. Such is the power of a random image, reflected on and seen through rose tinted glasses which works quite well still, despite years of cynical black and white filtered observations.

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