Friday, 18 February 2011

On the shelf


Look! Mr Ashbless has gone and put a new set of shelves up, so that I can stack all my photo albums properly. Eighty-six numbered voumes so far, plus some odds and sods. There they stand, the record of my life, all the way from when I looked like this, at age ten:


It's a weird experience, looking back. One thing I realise now is that I never was as ugly as I thought I was. I wish I'd known then. Here's me at eighteen:


Underneath that grey tanktop (a grey tanktop for pete's sake! Oh dear god...), I was seething, I tell you. A black hole of hormonal appetites that never passed the event horizon to escape.

By Album 3 (and oh boy, did it feel like longer) I got laid:


Aren't I happy? This was taken the morning after. Haircut has improved.

From then on, for thirty albums, it's mostly LARP photos and grey pictures of castles taken in the drizzle. We must have visited every castle in Britain, looking at that lot. I can be spotted in a number of LARP costumes:


There are a lot of party photos too, because this was before my friends started breeding. You can plot the receding hairlines over the years. Some people appear for volume after volume on almost every page - and then suddenly vanish from the record. Some people appear in Album 3 and are still there in Album 86. And there's so much missing from the pictorial record - the emotional stuff, much of my working life, my writing.

By Album 37 the LARPing is growing thinner and, as my earning potential dries up and Mr Ashbless' picks up, the foreign holidays start to dominate. I become meticulous in recording every activity and every place we visit. It's like I'm banking all these images for the sake of security.


There are surprisingly few pictures of me abroad, because I'm the one behind the camera.
But my writing creeps into visibility at last. I have become Janine:


And here's a photo of me taken last year at the Sonisphere festival, which I sent to Oysters and Chocolate last night for an anthology promo:


So there you go. Eighty-six albums, a life mostly full of good things: a beautiful world and wonder and friendship.
That empty shelf-and-a-half is for the rest of my life. And that really does make me feel peculiar.

13 comments:

Craig Sorensen said...

That is one healthy collection of photos! Thank you for sharing the pics of you over the years. It's cool to see your younger self, and read your thoughts on the days that have passed.

All the best in filling the next shelf-and-a-half, and here's to Mr. A having to build yet another set of shelves somewhere down the road.

Danielle said...

ahh..i so know that feeling...i make pictures all the time everywhere...to keep the moment..to make sure it has happened..to make sure i was there...80% of these pictures will never be seen by anyone but me...i rarely look at them myself..but i m happy that they exist....

..and i love that picture of you in the green hat...you look so lara croft like in that...:-)

but somehow i think two shelf will not be enough for the rest of your adventures:-)

t'Sade said...

I love the little things in life, those things that don't make it into the stories because they are mundane for someone but I find just as fascinating as the adventures.

Very cool on the pictures. I don't have a photograph record. Actually, it took my family six months to find a picture of me before 15 and even then, they couldn't figure out who was in the picture.

But, it sounds like you've had some fantastic adventures.

Jeremy Edwards said...

This was a brief but rich tour. I appreciate your letting us tag along!

Jo said...

Ahahahah Mullett!!!

What great photos, that's a lovely post. I love the Lara Croft one too :)

Janine Ashbless said...

Lol - Yes, I admit I had a mullet! It was followed by a wild perm (you can see it in the demon photo) so what can I say? - I have no taste. Guilty as charged :-)

Thank you Craig and Jeremy, Danielle and t'Sade and Jo. You can see, can't you, why I've got such a picture-heavy blog? I'm obsessed with collecting and displaying pictures, clearly. My blog is like another set of photo albums, only I've mostly filched the pictures off the web...

Anyway, one of the best things about doing this post was being able to see myself evolving with age. Normally I'm stuck in the inside of my head looking out, but today I got a look from outside at myself.
I turned out all right, didn't I? I'm quietly surprised and pleased!

Jeremy Edwards said...

You turned out GREAT.

Justine Elyot said...

Aha! CND badge! I had one of them.

Great photos (and great masks next to the bookshelf too).

Janine Ashbless said...

I hadn't even noticed the CND badge, Justine...
It annoyed the hell out of my Christian Youth Group friends at the time :-)

Janine Ashbless said...

Xoxo Jeremy!

Emerald said...

Your pictures are beautiful! I'm so impressed by your meticulous organization with your photos.

"here's to Mr. A having to build yet another set of shelves somewhere down the road"

That's so lovely Craig. :)

"I'm quietly surprised and pleased!"

I am completely delighted to read that! I too feel of course that you're wonderful and enjoyed this glimpse in photos and text of your experience—but any importance that may have pales in comparison to you yourself feeling that way. :)

Thanks for sharing all this! Xoxo

Janine Ashbless said...

Emerald, you have such a generous and understanding spirit!

"here's to Mr. A having to build yet another set of shelves somewhere down the road"

Damn, but where? We'll have to have more building work done ;-) Actually, I think that's a lovely wish, and thank you Craig. And Mr Ashbless won't mind too much, I'm sure - he'd rather put up fifty shelves than cut one piece of linoleum!

Erobintica said...

I am soooooooo impressed that you have all those organized! Wow, I figure I'll have to spend ten years of my life organizing photos of the past 53, that is if I ever get started!

"I never was as ugly as I thought I was" - yeah, I wish I'd known the same then too. LOL, maybe it was a good thing though. Hahahaha. Mind reels. ;)

thanks for sharing!