It isn’t only the whitened stones that are worthy of note here, nor my father’s half-hearted attempt to disguise the lascivious look he’s directing at the woman next door who is hanging out washing in a short skirt. It’s also the fact that the two figures are squashed over to one side.
You might expect that it’s due to my mother – who I assume took the picture – being unaware of the phenomenon known as 'parallax error' commonly encountered in pictures taken using a non-reflex camera by a person who doesn’t know what parallax error is. I must admit, I didn’t at the time so I was unable to advise her. This would be a logical and likely assumption, but there is an alternative.
It could be that the seemingly vacant spot was, in fact, occupied by my friend Michael. Michael and I used to sit in my tent playing music and discussing everything under the sun (except, I suppose, the incidence of parallax error and how to correct it. Michael had gone his own separate way by the time I discovered that little gem.) Michael was singularly remarkable for two facts:
1. My mother never spoke to him or brought him glasses of lemonade like she did for me.
2. He never appeared on photographs.
One other minor side issue connected with this picture is that the wood which can be seen at the top of the garden is the one in which Brendan Bradshaw met the enigmatic stranger in the first chapter of my novel. It’s where he first saw the little people and the curious demon from a darker realm. It’s where he gasped at the sight of Mr Harrison’s lifeless body hanging from a tree while Mr Harrison’s disembodied spirit squeaked and gibbered in the undergrowth like the sheeted dead in the Roman streets. It’s where he first learned that things aren’t always as they appear to the naked eye.
And since the literary note has been introduced, I might add that I read the first page of the priestess-recommended novel The Woman in the Dunes today (I often read the first page long before I start the book in earnest.) It begins:
One day in August a man disappeared.
This is a bit of a coincidence because there’s a line in one of my stories which runs:
…Jamie Green disappeared, one Sunday in late September.
Or maybe it isn’t. I’m in that kind of mood tonight, so I doubt you’ll get anything rational out of me.