The books are depressing me today. So many of them have clearly never been read and at times, it feels as if the whole publishing industry is founded on unwanted gifts. In the skip for new books are dozens of copies of the bestsellers of recent Christmases: Frankie Boyle's autobiography, a Top Gear annual, all of Dan Brown's ouevre and countless celebrity memoirs. Very few of them are well-thumbed.
During these silent afternoons of muted light and creeping coldness, I find it hard not to think about my own mortality. Dealing with the detritus of the recently deceased, I'm only too aware that one day it will be my books and photographs that will be turned into lampshades, packaging and road surfacing material.
I have asked people to start saving photos and albums, without telling them why and several things have arrived during the last week. The best was a collection of pictures of a Sussex family taken between 1927 and 1929.
None of the images are particularly remarkable, but what interests me is that they show a society in transition. The older generation - all born during the mid-Victorian age - don't appear to have change their style of dress at all. The photo below could have been taken any time in the late nineteenth century, except that the boy is holding a model plane:
The increasingly independent young women of the 1920s must have shocked their grandparents, who had seen their slowly-changing world completely torn apart by the First World War. It's not the past that's a foreign country, it's the future and if you live long enough, you'll be a stranger in a strange land.