Sometimes our memories can play tricks on us, and in the context of height differences, even a renowned 'Height Expert'
like myself can get fooled.
One rainy day, whilst browsing through albums of old photos and reminiscing about the innocent times of youth, a particular photograph caught my eye.
Almost 12 year old Rob & Mystery Man
It wasn't the Casio watch, the Adidas trainers or turned up jeans that drew my attention, but the fact the taller person's head was chopped off. I began to wonder who this mysterious and towering presence really was.
The giant teacup behind us made it easy enough to pinpoint a time and place: The Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988. And being late summer, I could also narrow down my age to just about turning 12 and about to embark on the High School experience.
So later that day when visiting my Parent's, I showed the photo of myself and the headless man to my Mother, piquing her interest as to who this person might have been.
"That's your brother Yambo,"
she immediately replied.
Slightly taken aback and with a bewildered shake of my head, I said "Don't think so."
Now I do indeed have a brother named Yambo. How he got that name is another story (involving Gorilla's), but he would have just turned 13 at this point. I looked even closer at the photo and scratched my head. It made no sense.
Seeing there was still an inch above my eyes, and no chin of the mystery man in view, I began to interpret the height difference as being somewhere within the 7-8 inch range.
I figured I'd have been near 5ft 2 at this age and thought to myself, 'No way was my brother 7 inches taller than me at age 13!'
"Maybe it's Dad,"
"No. No. No. That's your brother,"
she laughingly insisted.
"Look at the Height difference! It's got to be an Uncle surely?"
I calmly opposed.
She looked again and with a Motherly insistence in her voice, proclaimed: "It's Yambo!"
I left it at that, not wanting to get into an argument about the headless man. After all, I was right and she was clearly wrong. She was 76 and her memory was bound to be playing tricks on her.
In my mind it was impossible that my 13-year old Brother was towering above my 12-year old self. To me, simply looking at the interpreted height difference discounted that notion in it's entirety. In fact, I was 99% certain it wasn't him and would have bet my house on it, such was my assuredness.
Fast forward 6-months to a warm Sunny day in June and whilst doing some tidying up at my Parent's home, my Mother gestures towards me to "Carry these upstairs"
, handing me a couple of hefty photo albums.
Of course, being curious about what these albums might contain, I opened one and immediately the colour began draining from my face.
The very first photo that my eyes gazed upon was from 1988. Yes, yours truly in Adidas trainers and turned-up jeans, at the Glasgow Garden Festival.
This time though, the headless man was fully visible.
Yambo, Gizmo and Rob
It turns out that Mother's know best. She was right and I was wrong. Maybe she wasn't paying as much attention to the height difference as I was, and noticed the clothing Yambo was wearing and immediately realised it was him. Maybe I was focussing too much on myself and not taking into account any camera tilt or paving differences that would have exaggerated the difference.
Now the real height difference at that time was likely between 5 and 6 inches, so the subsequent photographic discovery makes sense and the tall headless man was indeed my 13-year old brother, Yambo.
As for who might have taken the photograph of the headless Man? Well, see that little 5 year old kid in Pigtails? That's our sister Gizmo...I blame her.