Friday, November 19, 2010

In which Al enters the Picture.

A little while ago I did a post based on my early teen years in Mum’s patch of the country.

I promised I would carry on with more of the story. Well I am starting that story again only… and it is a fairly big only… I am jumping about thirteen or fifteen years further into the past.

The early 1960s a man and a woman meet and fall in love.

He was from India. As an Anglo-Indian in a racist world, living in what was Redneck Australia he was (I think) tormented. She was desperately unhappy in a marriage to a man who would not let her return home to visit her ailing father in England.

They are both married to other people and have children. Yet despite that and despite the standards of the time they leave together. He never looks back, she regrets always leaving her son and daughter with the man she no longer loves.

About two years later I was born…

Meet my father, Rupert Russell. This is what he was like in my earliest memories (and amazingly I do remember these times). He was young and fit and a lover of wild places. But it is almost impossible to find a picture of him in this period. He was a thinker (some might argue a philosopher) and he had some funny thoughts. Like me he was and is a writer (find a small sample here). One of the thoughts he had in this period was that people should not have their photo taken. Hence no photos of him.

And... no photos of me as a baby. Which brings me to this piccie. Mum holds a gate somewhere in western NSW so Dad can drive through. Next to her a two year old Al.This is the oldest picture of me in existence. Don’t I look a serious little fellow?

As I said Dad was a lover of the wilds. He grew up in an India that was still even then largely jungle and learnt a passion for the wild from his father. So one of the things we did when they weren’t moving around looking for work was go out into the bush and camp.

Here is one of the few piccies of my Dad from then. Mum got up and snapped him as he slept. The tousled little head next to his is mine.

A detail I had never noticed before on the car are some packets of dri-tot nappies (diapers). I have always known that the mosquito net in the car window was there to protect my little brother Ian from the flies. He was a tiny newborn at the time of this trip. So he slept in a bassinet in the car.

This little photo of Mum was taken a few days later on the same camping trip.And now a discovery. I have always treasured this photo as one from my early days. I scanned it a few years ago so I could have a copy. But tonight I blew it up so I could look at it for this post and I saw something I had never noticed in the little 2” by 2” print.
Al enters the picture.


Anonymous said...

Al, what a story! Shame you have no photos of yourself before age two, but your father is not alone in having that no-photographs view. His writing is poetic and inspiring. I can see that thread of wildlife and landscape love weaving back through the generations.

Thank you for sharing this. I look forward to the next instalment.

Kyna said...

Your dad is spearing a fish and smoking a pipe at the same time. Wow. What an awesome picture :D

I love learning about people's lives. I'm going to have to do some posts about my family. Although I'm not sure that they even as close to interesting as yours are :D

Carolyn V. said...

Okay, that is just fascinating! And what a great little treasure to find in your Mom's picture. =)

Old Kitty said...

Aww I love your dad's essay on Peace. He has a very lyrical magical and poetic style - it;s lovely, thanks for sharing this here!!

Awww look at you!! You have a fascinating history! Your mum and dad are amazing people - so free and beautiful and following their hearts! Wonderful!!

Oh I love that your discovered a shot of you in that pic!! Wow! Take care

Kathleen Jones said...

A lovely post Al - your Mum must have gone through hell being torn between her children and her happiness and sanity.

JournoMich said... Wow. What a love story and what a treasure of pictures! The fact that there are so few of them makes them even more precious.

Are your parents still living?

Thank you for sharing this.

Southern City Mysteries

Lisa said...

Hmm--when you're done with the book series you're working on, I think you and your parents stories would make a wonderful book. Love that you were able to find yourself in that piccie!

Heidenkind said...

I like! This was a fun post. :)

Myrna Foster said...

I love this post, Al. Thanks for sharing part of your parents' story and your pictures.

Al said...

Hi Christine,
It is a story and a half. My parents and my life have been anything but boring!
Dad does have a nice turn of phrase, and Mum was and English teacher so I guess I had no choice but turning into a writer..
I am pleased you have enjoyed my little story.

Hi Kyna,
That was quite a trick!
I don’t know you’re pretty out there, so I guess there must be something hidden in your past.

Hi Carolyn,
Pleased you liked it.
I was tickled pink to find myself in that piccie.

Hi Jennifer,
It was a lyrical piece. And he means peace in another sense too, he was part of a huge conservationist war in the wet tropics for decades and the declaration of World Heritage status in FNQ made all the difference.

Hi Kathleen,
Thank you. You’ve hit it on the nail there, leaving Mike and Margie was I think one of the hardest things she ever did. She regrets it still. Yet in her insightful way she always says she can’t regret it too much because if she hadn’t there would have been no Allan, or Ian, or our children.

Hi Michele,
I am so pleased this has touched you.
Yes both my parents are still kicking, I posted about My Mum’s place recently and Dad lives in FNQ.

Hi Lisa,
I often think that. But then my Dad’s parent’s story makes more recent generations look dull and boring :-) It was a thrill, and especially to find myself while I wa preparing for this post.

Hi Tasha,
I’m pleased you enjoyed it!

Hi Myrna,
I’m happy to share. And happy you enjoyed it.

Culture Served Raw said...

Al, the last picture made me laugh so much! What a wonderful and intimate post, definitely my favourite as of now.

Hope you are well