Coming through the Gatun Locks Panama Canal 1958
I’ve been scanning and scanning and scanning my parents slides over the past week. Each one takes about 3 minutes. It’s a slow process and I’ve been getting lost in the past in their photos. There’s something about the quality and the colour of old slides which is very evocative. The slides I have show parts of the journey over from New Zealand, a bit of life on the ship and the passage through the Panama Canal, as well as lots of classic tourist shots of London and Paris and other parts of Europe. I wonder if, when they were taken, either of my parents thought they wouldn’t see home again for nearly thirty years? In my dad’s case, longer than that. It seems inconceivable to me. But once they had a family they couldn’t afford to go back, and being kiwis they didn’t even qualify for the £10 passage offered to lure Brits to Australia. They were stranded here.
Interestingly neither of them ever claimed the British citizenship which they were entitled to, and lived here the rest of their lives on ‘right to abode’ stamps in their passports. I don’t really know why they did this, either of them. Maybe they didn’t quite want to admit that this was where they had made home. And for me? England is my home, it’s where I belong, but I’ve always had this other country in the background, running along behind my life here, and when I go back to NZ, as I have done four times now, I feel strangely as if I am coming home there too. This was particularly true the last time I went back in January, and there is something about the scenery and the vegetation which is exotic yet familiar. This is why I’m scanning, scanning, scanning slides and forcing my creaky old computer to smooth out the jumpy footage I shot from our campervan – to show it all in the Frontroom art trail, and see what it ‘says’ about home and where I belong when it’s all put together. Maybe nothing very much, but who knows. It’s worth a try.