I came across a little suitcase yesterday when I was poking about in the loft. It contains memorabilia of my great aunt Joan- the youngest of my grandmother's sisters. She and my father- there was only ten years between them- had a kind of big sister-little brother relationship. She married Laurie, a merchant seaman who was dying of TB whom she met- I think- when she was doing war work in a hospital. After his death she lived with her sister Kathleen who was very deaf and maybe a little simple. She was a good egg- and as little like the Wodehouseian idea of great aunt as you can imagine. I think she worked as a company secretary or something of the sort. Her photo collection stretches from the teens of the last century through to the '90s- with a few Victorian cartes de visite thrown in. Oh look, here's my great, great grandmother! Mixed in with Bridges family stuff are images of war ships and pagodas and Japanese prisoners of war and jolly jack tars having a laugh which must have belonged to Laurie. He's here, of course, a rangy, sandy-looking chap- and.another good egg by the look of him. There's a fragment of wartime diary- a few months in 1941- which seems to have been kept by Laurie and Joan together; I need to read it. We have Joan's baptism certificate and confirmation certificate, a sad little collection of leather-bound devotional books- and a birthday book with quotations from Longfellow; Joan has filled it in haphazardly; My kids are in it but I'm not. And that's about it. A whole life- two whole lives- and they fit inside a suitcase.