Remona Aly
Wednesday 08 August 2018 BBC Radio 2

Mary Poppins and a step in time

Mary Poppins and the jump forwards

If there’s one TV ritual that I annoyed my family with, it was watching Mary Poppins day in and day out on VHS. I desperately wanted the perfect nanny’s carpet bag filled with bottomless magic and lofty lamps. I wanted to ‘Step in Time’ with chimney sweeps on the rooftops of London.

But the most magical scene for me, was when Mary Poppins, the children and Dick van Dyke’s bizarre cockney accent jumped into a painting on the pavement, transporting themselves to another world in milliseconds.

I feel like doing the same when looking through old family photographs. If only I could jump into different points of my life in a puff of cloudy memories, knowing what I know now.

I’d leap into the photo of me aged 5 when I was bubbling with excitement about going to a fair, and say, ‘Today is the first day you’ll encounter prejudice because you’re different, but don’t be sad, you’ll turn it into a strength later.’

I’d jump into the picture of me when I’m 14 and say, ‘I know you hate looking in the mirror, but focus on beautifying the inside, the rest will follow.’ (I’m still waiting on that one.)

And I wish I could step into the photograph of me aged 30 with my father, and whisper in my ear, ‘This is the last photograph you’ll have with dad. Cherish this moment.’

But everything has its time and place – my past can’t be lived in hindsight. What I knew in the evening of my life, isn’t what I was meant to know in the morning.

The great Muslim Persian poet Shams Tabrizi advised: ‘Try not to resist the changes which come your way. Instead, let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”

Belief in the great unknown isn’t just part of my faith, it’s the vehicle of my life. That which lays before us is as exciting and unpredictable as a picture yet to be painted or a photograph yet to be taken. So I won’t yearn to step back in time to be practically perfect in every way like Mary Poppins, but I will leap forward into the great mystery of the open road.