It was taken from the gateway into the The Walled Garden. The photographer, another 12-year-old, wouldn't cross the line, and aimed his Box Brownie at me inside. The Walled Garden was out of bounds. I shouldn't have been in there. For those with a subversive streak putting somewhere off limits just fires curiosity. What forbidden fruit was in there? What was to be hidden from pre-teen, pre-pubertal eyes?
Often and often had I wondered what secrets the Walled Garden held. In fact there wasn't anything very interesting. Some bales of straw, greenhouses, cold frames, manure heaps, just the usual impedimenta of a large kitchen garden. As so often happens, it was better to travel in the mind's eye than to arrive.
In due course the photo was developed and printed in the school dark-room. Nothing happened. My trespass was forgiven.
It's in the same vein that I wonder, often and often, what the regular visitors here are really like. It's clear that you're all very charming, personable, intelligent, articulate and friendly people, and there's no set of people I'd rather have in my mind's eye when putting posts together. But all I have to go on, apart from Dave, whom I've actually met, is the trade-mark image (I won't use the Av-word, I'm afraid) and what you reveal of yourselves in your writings. Nevertheless I'm drawn - very humbly indeed - to certain conclusions...
Geoff I see as strongly resembling George Clooney, but with glasses. He spends a lot of his time, at home and at work, looking out of the window, but he sees much more than what's in sight. If he has a middle name it's possibly Regret. He has a winning smile, unchanged since he was very small. He takes a lot of care with his dress , which owes more to Next than M&S. An affectionate, patient and witty man, very loyal to his friends. You wouldn't easily find a better neighbour.
Sarah allows us glimpses of her true appearance from time to time, but beyond that I see her as beautifully spoken and much given to wild laughter. She is excellent company. She dresses in a very individual and attractive way, and her sense of colour indicates great depths of artistic feeling. She lives more for the moment than for eternity, prefers outdoors to indoors and loves the wind in her hair and sea-scents in her nostrils.
Vicus is tall and ascetic, slightly resembling George Bernard Shaw. Dress is important to him. He would never dream of going out without cleaning his shoes. He has beautiful handwriting. The disappointments he may have known have only served to magnify the greatness of his heart. He is a very careful and considerate driver, a great family man with wide interests. He has thought of going into local government, but is glad to have resisted the temptation. I could never beat him at chess. I don't expect he goes in for darts or arm-wrestling much.
Rog, you stand alone. There is none like you.
Z is a marvellous compendium of good things above the price of rubies. There is steel and determination woven into her otherwise affectionate and outgoing nature, although once she may have been at some pains to overcome a basic shyness. A certain attractive insouciance masks the depth both of her reading and of her willingness to organise competently. Her smile will light a whole room, her pearly laugh is infectious. She rarely speaks ill of anyone, although often ready to tease gently. Very good company, with an enviable gift for keeping friendship green.
I,LTV's capacious brain is perpetually buzzing with original ideas clamouring for attention. The endless jigsaw of highly-coloured objects and bright and lively people in her life will never be completed. As she quivers with energy others sometimes find it hard to keep up. She always looks for the best in people. I feel I should like to read her poetry, but I suspect this may be a very private activity.
Then there's Dave. A sovereign bloke, if ever there was one. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be writing this blog. So you can blame him if I've trespassed, again.
Anonymous has a beguiling smile which he bestows on everyone. Apart from the wholly merited reputation for an easy-going bonhomie which this gives him, it allows the smilee to note that he has no fillings. Our friend is an orthodontist, and good wine needs no bush. Like us all, he sometimes allows himself to dwell in the past, especially late at night. A public-spirited man, he has toyed with the idea of becoming a freemason, a prison visitor, bedesman, but was so disappointed at being refused membership of the Soroptimists that he has developed a tendency to turn in upon himself rather than deploy himself more extrovertly. He once won - and subsequently ate - the Mrs Joyful Prize for raffia work.