Monday, 7 May 2012

Lost in a Translation

I’ve always been prone to lose things.  I put them down and forget to pick them up again, or tidy them away and then can’t find them when I need them.  Wallets, keys, glasses, mobiles, bills, reminder notices, passports, the occasional wellington boot, things just seem to go missing and get lost.  The value of the object, sentimental or material, doesn’t matter; I have no partiality when it comes to losing important things or trivial items.  For a long time I blamed other people, or the weather, or the position of the sun relative to Venus, or whether the day of the week was named after a Norse Deity or an astrological phenomenon.  However, the sad day came when I had to take a long hard look at myself and conclude that I am just one of life’s absentminded people destined to go through life with a look of perpetual bewilderment and one hand in my pocket frantically looking for my credit cards.  All this self-flagellation is merely to set the scene for what I’m sure you can predict is coming.

Despite my better judgement we went back for our second scan about two months after the first. The building hadn’t changed, although I was sure we had turned left instead of right after the second double doors the last time.  Nevertheless we arrived back in the room, with the space invaders console and the reassuring nurse.  This time however our child wasn’t playing, or else if she was, it wasn’t the same game as the nurse.

If I had thought it was difficult to see anything identifiable the first time it was impossible when the baby seemed to be auditioning for strictly come dancing.  Our child was so wriggly that the nurse even commented on the fact that we would have our hands full when she was born.  Already having an inkling of how far short of the standard I would come when it came to fatherhood these were not the words I was hoping for.  After much cajoling from the nurse, calm was achieved, photos were taken, and labels were disappointingly not used, though not through lack of trying on my part. 

We returned home to put the new photo up and show off our new action shot of our baby.  People came, people saw, people were suitably impressed. As with the previous photo I pointed out the parts that the nurse had assured me were there but which, in fact, looked more like something you would see people running from in a horror film, all blurred and grainy and black and white. 

This carried on for a bit, the photo proudly standing in its place on the box which passed for our mantelpiece.  Until, one day, my wife came and asked me where the photo had gone.  I expressed my heartfelt lack of knowledge assured in the facts that I could have had nothing to do with its disappearance and was totally innocent.  My wife, however, knew better and continued in her belief that I was the prime mover behind the vanishing despite my protestations.

This continued for a number of months, until the time when I had to go to the library to borrow a book that I had already loaned out once.  The book was a translation of Hilary of Poitiers’ work ‘On the Councils’ (don’t say I don’t provide all the crucial details) which I had taken out, but not remembered to note the reference, thus proving that it is probably not just fatherhood that I am inadequate for.

I brought the book home only to find that someone had kindly left something in the very page that I needed.  Quietly thanking whichever Classics student it had been, I opened the book to discover that they had left a photo in there, and not just any photo but a photo which looked distinctly like the photo which had sat on our mantelpiece purporting to be of my unborn child.  Obviously I still couldn’t make out any of the details, but it definitely looked similar.

My excitement at this piece of serendipity caused me to rush downstairs to present the photo to my wife.  This proved somewhat short-sighted as I then had to try to explain what it was that had possessed me to use the sonogram of our child as a bookmark.  That was relatively plain sailing, after all I had the photo to mollify my wife, plain sailing, that is, until I had to come completely clean and admit that the book had been all the way through the library system with our sonogram in it and that it was a total fluke that I had needed to get the book out again.  My wife did come down from the ceiling, succumbing to my reasoning that at least we had found the photo.

Secretly though I am quite pleased.  I imagine that of all the sonograms which have been taken ours has been on one of the strangest journeys.  And yet we still have it, though I would be hard pressed to put my hands on it right now.  Every cloud has a silver lining however, I can honestly say I have learnt my lesson, I will never use our daughter as a bookmark, just in case.


  1. Ha! A slightly scary story, but also rather reassuring. It was obviously meant to come back to you. Unlike most of the things *I* have lost, on the other hand...

  2. Yes, posting this caused me to search it out again, it now has pride of place in a pile of stuff in the dining room, which is the first step on the way to being lost again!

  3. Hahah I am forever putting things in a 'safe' place. It wii be a total jackpot the day I figure out where that safe place is!