Here's a nice little Sunday afternoon mystery. There I was, sorting stuff out (as you do when daughter is coming home from Uni next week and you have to turn what has been a handy dumping ground all term back into something resembling the bedroom she left in January) and I opened up a box (yes, I know, big mistake) that I'd retrieved from my mother's bungalow and found a mysterious envelope bundled up inside.
Stamp Helvetica 50 somethings, postmarked Geneva, date possibly 1945 (but possibly not)
Address label: "The Lancet" which is a British Medical Journal that as far as I am aware my family has no connection with at all.
Inside was a pile of wooden jigsaw pieces. Curiouser and curiouser.
So I shook them out. They were hand cut and not at all regular so... Well what do you think? I made the jigsaw, of course.
Now - this is the weird bit. I KNEW that girl in the pink dress. And I nearly knew the woman in the yellow blouse at the back. And the little girl on the right had a haircut the dead-ringer for one I had when I was five or so. She could almost have been me at that age, except I knew she wasn't me.
At this point I had a cup of tea. I mean, she really wasn't me, right? Because this photo-print-jigsaw thing must be a lot older than than that. And why was it in a Red Cross envelope postmarked 1945?
I looked at the jigsaw on and off for the next hour. "That woman at the back looks a bit like Nanna," said son on one of his passages through the kitchen. "No, it's not," I said. "Nanna never looked like that." And then (after another cup of tea) it hit me. The little girl on the right - the one that definitely wasn't me - that was my mother. Which meant that the girl in the pink dress (that I'd KNOWN I'd known) was my aunt. And the woman in the yellow bending over at the back was my Nana.
I rang my aunt to ask if she owned a pink dress with a white collar when she was about eight years old, but she was out.
And I still don't know why it was in a 1945 Red Cross envelope addressed to The Lancet.