THE PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Jill Sinclair is living in a dingy bedsit flat In a rough area of a busy North East city.

From a well off family and with doting parents she has everything a girl could want. She is introduced to the world of modellllinng and gains fame and fortune as an child/teen actor.

Her time in the spotlight as a household name comes to an end when she becomes tired of the expectations of her employers and says no. America beckons but she ends up on the slippery slope to despair.

THE PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM

CHAPTER 1 

SETTING THE SCENE

Jill sat on the floor of her ground floor bedsit near Sunderland city centre, her hair tied back with a makeshift hair band in the form of a pair of old knickers from the draw. A hair-dye stained T shirt that once belonged to an old boyfriend loosely acting as a dress, or nightie, or maybe just to cover up.

The gas fire was providing plenty of heat, she'd got Eric upstairs to jam the coin meter so she wasn't paying for any gas. The can of Carlsberg lager at her side was a 'present' from one of the druggies who used her 'flat' as a place to hang out and get stoned. Tonight she'd bolted her door from the inside and the only light was from a candle she'd pinched from the chemists over the road. She was alone with her thoughts.

Jill took a long deep draw from the joint she'd built from fag ends and discarded roaches. Tonight was her night. Just her and her thoughts. The radio cassette player with the broken cassette draw was quietly limping through a Queen album Steve had copied for her. On the other side - Bowie. She shuffled from her position sitting with her legs tucked underneath her, to a cross legged pose with the giant T shirt pulled across her knees. Then she picked up one of the battered photo albums in front of her and opened it on her knee. Raking on the floor for the lighter she borrowed and not returned from someone in the Fort, she lit the joint again and inhaled a deep toke, holding it in for a count of ten before letting the smoke drift from her nose in what she once thought was a sophisticated display.

She opened the first page of the album. There she was, in full Kodachrome colour, completely naked for all to admire, pink bow in her hair and admire they did, she was adorable, she was beautiful, she was two months old, sitting in in the bath with pretty big brown eyes and 'that' look which was to become her passport to fame and fortune. J

ill Sinclair stared at the picture. She studied the clean tiles, the nice tap and the crystal clear water with spotless toys floating around her. Her finger traced the edge of the bath in the photo as though it was real. What she wouldn't do to be back in that bathroom again, in that nice house on a private housing estate with proud parents smiling down on her.

Jillian Sinclair had a perfect childhood, she thought. Always nice clothes, nice toys, nice home. First born and doted on by Mam, Dad and two sets of grandparents. Her opportunities were endless, her future assured. A doctor, a Lawyer, a Teacher. A mother, a wife or perhaps a pop star or an actress or a Supermodel.  Was that how it all started? Wasn't that what most little girls wanted. Did she have too much ambition, too many expectations or just make the wrong decisions, trust the wrong people.

There was a tap tap tap on her window. Someone wanting to come in, to chat, to use her bedsit to get high or to try and get her into bed. She didn't try to pretend she was out, She just lit her joint again, sipped her carlsberg and turned the page of her photo album.

Page 2

 Two years old and Jilly the beach babe models the latest line in bikinis, Taken on a deserted Spanish beach while the family enjoyed a long weekend break. There were no signs of the life yet to come apart from that faintly coy expression that was to be so much part of her future.

Children live for the next big adventure. Jill has no recollection of the trip whatsoever, but in her mind she pictures a perfect family group, paddling in the warm sea. Mother in a fashionable but demure bikini with a big sombrero hat shielding her pale skin from the fierce sunshine. Father in his speedos, tanned, and his muscular frame running into the deeper part of the sea before launching himself into a dive, showing off to his pretty wife and daughter.

She pictured them sitting on beach towels, eating fresh melons and drinking chilled orange juice from a cooler box. Mother arranged for maximum exposure to the sun, Dad laughing and joking as he squirts Ambre Solaire on her tummy and rubs it in very gently, in ever increasing circles. Mum laughing and trying to look innocent as the circles of his hand creep slowly towards the boundaries of her bikini.

Jill picks up her can, and swirls it to estimate the contents. Still a third left. Her lips flicker into a little smile, thinking "who am I imagining". "Did Mum and Dad really do that or am I just channelling my own behaviour into their memory?" she questioned herself "Yes they loved each other, yes they must have had an intimate relationship. After all here I am. But was it exciting, passionate and dangerous like my encounters - or just "do your duty woman and think of England.?"

Once more her mind drifts and remembers the sandcastles she has seen on the various beaches. Her Dad was a very clever man, he could fix almost anything, Cars, toys, broken windows even sometimes radios or televisions. He surely would have little trouble in constructing a mighty sand castle with his loving daughter. She would have run back and forward to the sea with her little pink bucket, filling the moat with water, and crying to her daddy as the water disappeared into the sand. Then running back to the sea to try again. A bit like his attempts to fix his broken daughter.

Jill Sinclair drains the can, and realises that the thoughts of pouring water and the last dregs of Carlsberg had left her needing a wee. A simple problem for most of us. Not so for Jill! When she lived at home or in better accommodation she simply 'went to the toilet' washed her hands and returned to what she was doing.

In reality tonight there were two viable options.

Option one: Walk across to the vanity basin in the alcove of her room, turn on the cold tap a little, pull down her pants and perch over the basin while the tap water washed away her wee down the plug hole. Wipe in a piece of toilet paper she used instead of tissues and then rinse the basin out, wash her hands and go back to her photos.

ADVANTAGES. Quick, private, warm, no need to leave her bedsit. = 4

DISADVANTAGES. Dirty cow.= 1

Thats 4 - 1 in favour

Option two: find and put on some bottoms and shoes, leave the room locking it behind her, run the gauntlet of the drunken residents, perhaps queue for the toilet, speak to all the people hanging around the hallway who ask her whats up, what you doing, fancy a coffee, got any fags

And of course, all the disgusting suggestions of one or two dickheads.

Jill simply chose to wee in the sink. It was what they call a no brainer. "Dirty cow" she muttered as she pulled her pants up and relocated to the single bed with her photo albums. She turned the page slowly.

Page 4 - 5

It was warm enough on her single bed It was warm enough on her single bed. She had made it this morning, some things need to be right, she needs her measure of 'normal' around her. She decides to put the candle on her bedside drawers so she can still see her photos, she wandered over to the fireplace, picks up her candle carefully, to avoid the wax spilling on the carpet, Placing it on the little set of drawers a 'tear drop' of red wax trickles down the side and onto the table. "Shit!!" She mutters, then thinks "well at least it's stuck to the table.

Distracted now she rakes through her shoe box of cassette tapes and extracts one with 'Summer 2000' carefully written on the label with different coloured biro's. Studying the label she thinks to herself "I was artistic" then realises she actually said the words out loud - to nobody. The cassette case had long since disappeared, probably dropped or stood on or used to cut a little line because of its shiny surface.

 

Jill lifts the battered music machine onto the bed and props it against the wall, winds the tape tight with her little finger and pops it into the machine, jamming the door closed with a corner of a cigarette packet. Then almost ritualistically, winds it back to the start and squeezes the play button down until it clicks. Still on a low volume she smiles as S Club Seven begins with the ironic words : "When the world leaves you feeling blue. You can count on me, I will be there for you.When it seems, all your hopes and dreams. Are a million miles away, I will reassure you."

That certain smile appears on her face as she thinks "Yes that's what they all said"

She looks at the picture of the four year old little girl in the fairy princess dress with a fluffy fascinator in her hair and remembers her mothers face when she ran into little Jilly's bedroom with a letter in her hand. "Sweetheart, they want you to do some photos for a magazine" she was so excited "Aren't you excited , you are going to be famous!"

We had to go to a Photographers studio in Manchester for the day. She recalls the studio and remembers the pretty ladies who helped her try on all the beautiful clothes and put makeup on her face for the older Lady who took the pictures.

There was the big white umbrella and several lights and it got very hot. Jill remembers singing along to Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree as it played in the background, and See my baby jive, dancing to show off to all the people who kept telling her she was "a little star". Little Jilly believed them.

They kept asking her to do THAT smile again, She didn't know what they meant but she would try a few smiles and every now and then the photographer would say "YESSS that's the one darling, that look is gold dust."

When the pictures appeared in a well known gossip magazine there was no mention of her name. Only the style and price of the clothes Jill wore and where to buy them. Jill was not bothered, she tore the page out to take to school and show her classmates. They all told her how amazing she looked, apart of course for the boys, who tended to say "Uhrgh girls!".

Her Mum told her later that she didn't get paid for the pictures, but that they were paid traveling expenses and were sent a 'Portfolio' of pictures that was worth a lot of money. The portfolio was of value because Jill's Mum showed it to a local Newspaper who offered to use Jill in a fashion feature. The family were given free tickets to Flamingo Land as a payment.

Jill looked at the plain photo of her with her enigmatic look, wearing a flowery dress and thought That is better than the ones from Manchester, but why did they have to change the colour of my eyes?

She sang along to a few words of Kylie, as she was spinning around on the mix tape. She gave "that smile" to nobody there. Then she turned the page.

PART TWO WILL FOLLOW.

 THANK YOU FOR READING AND PLEASE COMMENT. I WILL REPLY!


Submitted: January 10, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Graham Makem. All rights reserved.

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