Finally tackling the clutter and jumble at the back of the bedroom cupboard, I discovered a tatty art folder that still carried the musty scent of the cottage attic. Amidst a number of old art prints and contact sheets, I found a photo that John had taken of me a few years ago.
A snap taken with the last of a roll of film, it was an impromptu capture of the black leather coat that I'd worn pretty much every day during my late teens and - though less frequently - into my twenties. God I loved that coat. Knee-length and slim cut, it slipped effortlessly over the beatniky clothes and 1930s dresses that I wore then. The smell of the leather was enough to take me straight back to those days of clubs until dawn and the curious peace and calm of the morning walk home.
But the day the photo was taken we'd been sifting through our possessions before yet another move and I had decided, finally, to take the coat out of storage one last time and give it away. I don't remember seeing the print before. Perhaps John and I both rejected it: he seeing the imperfections of print; me, the squeezed eyes, messy hair and far too many teeth on show. I dislike having my photo taken almost as much as I dislike looking at the results. See those defensive arms wrapped around my waist?
Looking at it now though - sitting amidst the mundane mess of daily life - that hasty, imperfect print fills me with happiness. Remembering not just those distant memories when a coat was a talisman as much as a piece of clothing but also all those times of laughing so hard that it hurts.