It’s a world older than the late 1960s, when this reel of film was shot. A world of horse and cart and wells for water and waves crashing on the rocks of undeveloped coastlines. A battered Citroën 2CV before a petrol station brings us back to the twentieth century. A road sign points in the directions of Maria, Lludi, Inca and Palma. The latter two are enough to tell us that we are in Majorca.
My father sunbathes on the beach, and swats away an insect with a lazy hand, or makes the movement in his sleep. Then we see him showing off his skinny champion flyweight boxer’s physique standing before a barbell, the connecting rod of which is bent, seemingly by the downward force of the weights at either end, and frequent handling. He brings the barbell to his chest, and then, the strain showing on his face, raises it high above his head, arms straight. You think this clean and jerk is slapstick at first, because of the gurning, because of his making it seem an effort when the spheres at either end of the barbell look like they might actually be made of polystyrene. But now my mother tries her luck, and only manages to raise it as high as her knees. The spheres are not in fact made out of polystyrene, but some considerably heavier material – metal or concrete, perhaps. Now my father lifts again, this time deliberately clowning and Charlie Chaplinesque, falling forward under the weight of the barbell till he collapses into the sand, a fistful of which he throws in my mother’s direction. She has another go, sticking out her tongue, and on this occasion at least manages to stand up straight with the barbell supported at her thighs. They look as happy as they are young, and young they certainly are. Young enough to be children of mine now.
Next the reel catches a flock of Majorcan sheep, and a bleached and arid-looking coastal panorama – presumably the Bay of Palma and its surrounding hills – at the end of the sweep of which, the camera briefly settles on my mother, who’s wearing a beige dress and sunglasses, looking like a character out of a Patricia Highsmith novel.
Finally it’s back to the beach, where she smokes, as do the friends to whom the footage cuts. Everybody did. They were much smokier days.