Not photographs, really. I'm sitting among a life. Every surface around me is covered in them. Hundreds of them. Photos of people, parties, cats, dessert plates, exotic destinations. Mostly of people. Vonne liked to be in photographs, and to take photos of other people.
Most of them are happy-snaps. Not many are works of photographic art. Here and there a great one surfaces, mostly of Vonne rather than by her. Despite not being close to any standard template of beauty, she was a ridiculous photogenic hottie.
Photos of Eve, her mother. I don't think Eve ever really walked. Early photos propped on horses and fences and cane chairs, sometimes hobbling about in leg braces and crutches. Later photos in wheelchairs, and eventually bedridden. Eve's tenants, the Kans, in all her photos, their kids surrounding her like a very small crayon-clutching Mongol horde.
Photos of Vonne playing dressups in the garden as a child. Obligatory bridesmaids' photos. My grandfather Peter's photos of Europe, every monument with a tiny Vonne in the foreground. Photos of Vonne and JoB, Dorothy, Hugh, assorted step-children and step-grand-spawn. Whole families she knew and loved that I never really got a handle on. Friends, neighbours. All her different houses lovingly documented. All the parties she threw. She threw a mean party. Watching all her furniture and objets drift from place to place, house to house, as she got bored and redecorated. Adventures to exotic destinations documented for posterity.
Early black-and-white pictures drift into washed-out colour. Become bright and glossy. Sizes get bigger and are standardised. Eventually digital prints start creeping in. The subject matter is the same.
Vonne bursts out of photos. You can hear her laugh in the pictures, her head thrown back. You can see her looking out at you, with that mischief-on-my-mind gleam in her eye. She's holding a glass, or a cigarette, or a whole wine-bottle, or an upside-down cat. Photos of her at my aunt and uncle's wedding, dancing on a table. Leaning with glee on someone else's vintage car. Vonne had the bearing of a silent movie star and a foxy smile.
People who met Vonne inevitably fell in love with her, her shrieks, her alarmingly blunt questions, her delight in throwing swearwords down on the table like a roast bird at Christmas in her beautifully elocuted throaty voice. She'd listen to you intently for four minutes and nod sympathetically as you waffled about your troubles, then with great dignity tell you to shut up and pull your thumb out. No tradesperson, shop assistant, call-centre employee or other hapless service industry person could escape her steamroller charm. She had strings of them that followed her round, like ducklings. Everyone had arguments with her, deeply personal disagreements and feuds, but it was impossible to stay angry. You found yourself rejoining the queue of ducklings without even noticing.
Vonne might be gone, but these photographs are little snippets of her soul. A collection of images of her and of the things she loved. And I will scan them all, no matter how long it takes.