Thousands of them. Thousands. All mixed up.
I located the horrible old projector, rewired the plug, and fetched the circuit-breaker just in case – it would be a really annoying way to be electrocuted. Greatly to my surprise, the bulb lit.
The slides are in no order at all; there may be a dozen of one subject, taken in a moment of obsession, and then we swoop from the Midlands to Barbados to the back garden to the inside of a pram to Australia. A few were taken by me, many by others. I improvised a light-box to help discriminate.
Cardboard boxes are stupid to keep slides in, generating acid and dust, but even plastic boxes don’t protect against poor quality film. For the record, Kodak and Agfa seem to have survived best, with Fuji and Boots and something that couldn’t even be bothered to attach a brand name coming along behind.
Occasionally a slide jammed, and had to be cut out of the tray with scissors. Once a slide fell into the interior of the projector, requiring hasty surgery.
I tossed steadily. It was like seeing someone off at the station: whether you are pleased or desolated to see them leave, you long for the train to go. Imagine how Frank Hurley must have felt sitting with Shackleton to destroy his own oeuvre.
What decided the choice of keepers? Sometimes a dress, sometimes a smile, sometimes a tree, sometimes even a doorframe or a shoe. This was decided by a jumper.