Mrs H becoming image of her late mother

That old adage came back to me recently that says when you get married, take a long look at your future wife's mother because that is what you'll end up with.

That old adage came back to me recently that says when you get married, take a long look at your future wife's mother because that is what you'll end up with. The truth in this didn't strike me until the last few years; I have noticed more and more in Mrs H lots of the characteristics of her dear late mother.

Firstly, I should say that she has inherited the generous caring nature of her Mum. Yes, okay, you may have gained the impression that this is not the case. Well, where I'm concerned she may drop her guard occasionally, not without cause I'm sure.

When she is bustling around Fortress H she has that same industrious air of her mum and her cheery “Byee” on the telephone is a real blast from the past.

And we have a photograph in which, at first glance, it is difficult to tell whether it is Mrs H or her mother.


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Now, mother-in-law was well known for turning up all over the place with her camera. If we went for a meal we'd be tucking into the main course when suddenly there'd be a flash and gravy on the chin was recorded for posterity.

In fact, at her funeral the vicar commented in his address that he suspected she was “Up there somewhere with her camera taking pictures of it all!”

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Well, it looks as though Mrs H has got the photography gene. She has always insisted I take my camera out with us. Brats M and M would get highly embarrassed in a restaurant when I was ordered to take a picture and had to weave my way past other diners to get the right angle then ask them to duck so they weren't in the shot.

I may have been the photographer but Mrs H was always there directing.

“Get in closer! You never get close enough. I bet there's a tree coming out of my head.”

But Mrs H now has her own camera and, like her Mum, it accompanies her on most outings. At a stately home recently, I lost her for 15 minutes. I saw her taking pictures of a fountain but then she disappeared. I eventually traced her to a rather large tree where she was reviewing her efforts and had hidden behind the tree so the light didn't reflect on the little window.

And there's the difference. Her Mum had a point-and-shoot camera with film in. Finish the roll, take it to the chemist and pick up your prints. Mrs H is in the wonderful world of digital photography.

You may think this makes life easier. The camera does most of the work for you - when you've grasped all the functions. You can see the pictures instantly, delete what you don't like and print out the remainder or save them on the computer.

There's the rub; the computer. There is so much you can do with photographs on a computer and with her thirst for knowledge, Mrs H wants to experiment. She has some software that allows you to do all sorts of clever things - but first, the photographs have to be put on the computer. This ought to be straightforward.

The other night, I was in bed buried in my book while Mrs H was slapping on the preservatives. I was reading but had one ear cocked ready for the closing headlines. But Mrs H caught me off guard.

“I'm going to download my photographs tomorrow,” she announced. “Can you talk me through it so I know what to do?”

As I said, this ought to be straightforward but after 20 minutes it was clear that either I had lapsed into Urdu or Mrs H wasn't getting it.

Explaining from memory what's on a computer screen and what happens when you click a particular button to someone who wants to know the exact procedure, is not easy. I certainly don't recommend it as a way of winding down for a good night's sleep.

Saying “Oh you'll see how it works when you get going,” was not good enough for Mrs H. Things got a bit fraught, but fortunately she finally agreed to give it a go.

At least I was more patient than her son. Brat Minor turned up the following evening and was called in to help. His mother didn't absorb it the first attempt and he was soon coming out with his; “You're not listening mother!”

By way of an example of the depth to which Mrs H goes, she wanted to know why, when she was putting images on her computer, this was referred to as downloading and not uploading.

I must admit, I was grateful for Brat Minor's presence. He managed to satisfy Mrs H with: “You're downloading from the camera and uploading to the computer.”

As if it really mattered.

But I don't knock it. In our dotage we will have loads of photos to look back over life at Fortress H.

I do wonder though, if I ought to give Spoilerman a nudge into taking a good look at Mrs H.

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