I recently decided to tidy our loft space: not a job for the faint hearted. It’s at times such as these that one wishes that one had labelled everything properly instead of just ‘shoving’ them into the attic space just to get them out of sight. Forgetting, of course, that the day would come when one might just need that ‘thingee’ or the other ‘whatsit’. Fortunately all of the Christmas decorations and related paraphernalia were labelled and easily accessible which I took to be a genuine victory. Alas, all the other boxes remain anonymous and are in desperate need of research. That’s where the whole ‘tidying of the loft’ exercise falls dramatically apart. The minute one opens a cardboard box one knows instinctively that there are untold treasures contained within requiring a serious ponder or reminisce: fatal! If ever there was an occupation designed for the killing of time this is it. The old books. Photographs. Notes. Where does one begin, especially with photographs? Of course, the temptation is to bring a box out of the loft for closer examination in a decent light, a temptation which ignores the effort required to restore said box to its lofty position. I therefore gave up on that notion deciding to go for the less strenuous ‘legs dangling out of the hole’ option. I’d begun to delve into a box containing old family photographs which is a sure-fire way of transporting oneself back to previously occupied planets. What I mean by that is that I’ve always seen my existence as arriving and departing from the various planets of my life. Planets where people, houses, clothes, attitudes, language: everything is uniquely different. The celestial spheres in my galaxy contain the heavenly bodies of childhood, family, work, my teenage years, marriage (the good, the bad and the brilliant) and planet now. Some of the pictures make me smile, in fact every emotion is captured in that one little box. It dawned on me that none of the photographs had been subjected to the perfection we all seek today. No photo-shop touch-ups or red-eye removal. Just old-fashioned snaps from another time and place. There are pictures of people who I don’t even know anymore but who, at one time or other, made life just that little bit more bearable or joyous. Should I try to re-contact them? Perhaps not. Of course there are the pictures that remain hidden from view as they tend to invoke feelings of deep sadness or even anger, emotional genies best kept in their bottle. Yet despite their affecting evocations one has to remember that future generations may wish to keep or dispose of them. Pictures of oneself enjoying past Christmases or other holidays or special events: alas undated. I catch myself smiling as I recall my own thick brown hair. Enough. As I switched off the light and closed the lid to the darkened loft I thought to myself ‘Perhaps I’ll tidy it another day’.