My Favourite Photo (and it’s got pigtails).

I’ve been tagged by a few people with the favourite photo meme – thanks to both Emily at Maternal Tales and Sandy at Baby Baby.

So the idea is to share with you a favourite photo and tell you why I love it.

I have millions of photographs. With my job, I’ve travelled a lot and met a lot of people and since I have a memory like a sieve, often photos are my only reminder that, yes, I have actually been to New Orleans and what’s more, I did drink the famous cocktail they serve there.  Actually, not surprising that memory’s a bit hazy, is it?

Anyway, lots of people have chosen great photographs of their kids. I thought about it but then I realised I can look at Flea pretty much whenever I like, so although I have lots of photos of her, they’re not the pictures I treasure most. So here’s my favourite photo: 


That stunning girl with supermodel potential on the left? Me, aged six. And sitting next to me is my older brother, Ross, aged nine.

Sadly, I can’t see Ross whenever I like, because he died at the age of 27 from a brain tumour. So I treasure all the pictures I have of him. But I like this one especially because people used to look at it and say, “Oh, don’t you look alike!” – which given that I was his foster sister at the time, used to make me feel like a ‘proper’ part of the family.

It also reminds me what good friends we were. As kids, we used to creep into each others beds at night and play a game of drawing pictures on each other’s backs and guessing what they were. I think Ross knew I didn’t like sleeping in my own room (which was the rule in those days, when you were in foster care). I fell asleep in Ross’ bed every night for years.

We played together almost every day, creating huge imaginary worlds of Playmobil and Star Wars figures, and toy soldiers. I remember how my Mum cried the year this photo was taken when, on Boxing Day, she saw that Ross and I had stripped out the dolls' house she'd saved up to buy for me – to use as a base for the Star Wars figures.

As we got older, we remained very close friends. As teenagers, we often met up in clubs, each with our own friends. Ross would walk me home and when we got in, he’d make us a cup of tea and we’d sit and listen to records, and chat.  Ross used to come and visit me every term at uni, and apart from his infuriating habit of sleeping with my friends and making them completely fall for him, we always had a fantastic time.

Like most older brothers, of course, he teased me remorselessly. The story of how he pretended to be trapped in the microwave and shouted for me to help him (yes, I looked) is the stuff of family legend. Then there was the time he put on a hooded top, sneaked out of his bedroom window, knocked on the front door and asked me, “Is Ross in?” I then spent 10 minutes looking for my brother while his ‘friend’ waited patiently on the front door step. Sheesh.

He always loved practical jokes, and for that we called him Peter Pan. We always said he’d never grow up, and we were right. 


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. TheMadHouse
    20th January 2010 / 8:37 pm

    Oh my Sally, I am sat here wiping the tears from my face. I am so sorry for your loss, but I am also so happy that you had such a great relationship with your brother, you are very lucky to have had that experiance. A great photo, but even better memories

  2. 20th January 2010 / 8:53 pm


  3. 20th January 2010 / 8:59 pm

    What lovely memories you have of him. So sorry for your loss. Very cute picture.

  4. Emma
    20th January 2010 / 9:04 pm

    Thank you Sally. Lovely picture and post. What a lovely brother!
    I lost my older sister when she was 31 (she also created elaborate Playmobil and Star Wars worlds with me!) so am a bit tearful reading this but reminds me of how great older siblings can be and how important they are to who we become.

  5. 20th January 2010 / 9:14 pm

    Oh sweetheart. So, so moving. Beautiful photo and wonderful memories x

  6. Experimental Mum
    20th January 2010 / 9:35 pm

    Thank you Sally, lovely post and photo and such lovely memories. No wonder he charmed all your friends at uni, those dark eyes and cheeky grin!

  7. 20th January 2010 / 10:36 pm

    Wonderful. Sounds like you wre a perfect pairing.

  8. 20th January 2010 / 11:08 pm

    Sally this is a beautiful post and I too am in tears. Your brother sounds just fabulous. I am so sorry that you lost him so early. It is a wonderful photo and so clear why it is your favorite!

  9. Jess
    21st January 2010 / 1:26 am

    What a lovely post, Sal. Just beautiful.

  10. Sally
    21st January 2010 / 2:10 pm

    Thanks chaps. My brother was one of my best friends and I’m fortunate that we got along well, and that when he died there wasn’t any doubt that, you know, we quite liked each other really. And I’ve got some great memories, so I consider myself pretty lucky, in lots of ways.
    Also, for those who say he sounds perfect: those pigtails? He used them as motorcycle handles.

  11. Nicola
    21st January 2010 / 3:46 pm

    Gorgeous photo and amazingly heartfelt post.

  12. 21st January 2010 / 4:48 pm

    what a lovely memory – and a beautiful honour for him… am so sorry you lost him… but sounds like he gave you great great memories (prticularly like the microwave story!!)

  13. 23rd January 2010 / 8:16 pm

    What a lovely story and a photo to treasure. Mich x

  14. 25th January 2010 / 2:55 pm

    Ah, I’m really late commenting – sorry. I left this post in my reader because I thought it would make me cry, and it did. When photographs and treasured memories are all you have of someone you loved it’s good to bring them out and polish them every now and again. That sounds naff beyond words, I hope you know what I mean x

  15. Sally
    26th January 2010 / 9:57 pm

    @Sandy – I know exactly what you mean. I’m very careful not to hide the photos away, and I do feel that even if it makes me cry a little sometimes, sharing the stories and acknowledging what a big part Ross played in the person I am is keeping his spirit alive. Thanks for commenting x

  16. 26th January 2010 / 11:46 pm

    I’ve only just seen this.
    Honestly, I just can’t even imagine how much you must miss him. My relationship with my brother is like the one you speak of with Ross, and the thought of losing him. Well, it makes me cry just thinking about it.
    Such a horrible loss to you and your family. But such beautiful memories too.
    Gorgeous photo. And do you know what, as you wrote about him? His sense of humour? Reminded me of you and Flea. So much.
    Much love xx