Remembrance for a Raincoat

I think a rainy February Saturday is best spent in a bookshop or museum. We spent ours at the National Portrait Gallery’s Family Story Telling learning about Zoffany’s Sharp Family. The Sharps were eighteenth century Osmonds and at the weekend the family and their musical instruments boarded a barge in Fulham and sailed up the Thames giving concerts. Yes, when we’re not commuting on a bus up and down the Walworth Road we enjoy the contrast of today’s story teller asking the ten or so families at the event if anyone had a music room at home and seeing a third of the audience put their hands up (I’m not sure this is what’s meant by widening participation). Although we could enthusiastically raise our hands when the next question was about live sightings of mice.

Leah enjoyed pretending to be a bell-ringing mouse but Eve needed the loo so she and I missed this bit. She is terrified of any stairs which are not solid (I had the exact same phobia as a child) so I had to carry her the two flights up to the ladies. But here she is being very courageous on the way down.

After some enthusiastic cat mask making by the parents with degrees of irresolute and whining participation from the twenty or so children, David needed to collect something from his office and Leah went with him because his biscuit tin is her favourite installation piece. I spent a very happy fifteen minutes looking at Michael Landy’s pencil portraits. Eve was sleepy so rather than my usual quickstep of look, read the caption and stop Eve from touching/running off/shouting she was happy to be cuddled whilst I concentrated. I liked Landy’s description of drawing as taking an inventory of the face. Maureen Paley and Landy’s self-portrait were the standouts for me.

I’ve photographed Leah’s raincoat because it might have had its last outing today. She chose this herself when she was two and even though the sleeves are now three quarter length and the poppers barely do up she still insists on it. Two years of seeing her vehicle embossed figure run around in the rain is a memory I want to hold onto. The raincoat will join other special items of clothes and toys in a box in the loft for when Leah’s grown up. I wonder what memories it will bring back for her. I hope that today is one of them.

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