Thursday, 27 December 2012


Regular readers of my daily drivel, or perhaps I should say long-time regular readers, may possibly recall that I am something of a family history nut.  I'm pretty sure that I have mentioned - probably on more than one occasion - how frustrated I get as I turn into no more than a collector of names, dates and places.  It's one thing to know that my first cousin three times removed, Elsie Bloggs, was born in Bishop Auckland in January 1847 and that in 1861, aged 14, she was a general servant to a greengrocer and his family in Durham.  By 1871 she had married a coal miner and had two children.  But what was her life really like?  What were her duties as a servant, the only servant in the house?  What was her house like, the house where she brought up nine children?

And what about three-time great uncle George who, along with several other members of my extended family tree, was a brush maker?  What did making brushes involve?

The names, dates and places provide merely a skeleton, the bones on which I long to find meat.  There was a time when I had thought this blog might provide a source of meat for the generations who will follow me - always assuming that any of them are at all interested.  Looking back, I see that some of the posts might do that - but there is so much that is missing.  Historians today delight in examining household accounts from (for example) Elizabethan days; they love to see what people were buying and what the prices were.

An uncle, before he died, wrote down many of his childhood memories, a true autobiography which has provided my cousins with hours of pleasure and given them a much greater insight into what caused their father to develop in the way he did.  But, again, there were bits missing.

I have been toying with the idea of maintaining a journal for a twelve-month or so in which I would describe in detail my life as an elderly person in the early years of the 21st century.  A hundred years down the line there will be people interested not only in the great sweep of international or just national politics but also in the nitty-gritty of daily life.  What did people think about things?  What did they eat?  What sort or entertainment was common?  What were incomes and prices?

It doesn't seem a bad idea - but I'm not at all sure I could do it justice.  Maybe I'll just leave it to somebody else.


This picture was taken back in the spring and is one of my favourite pictures of 2012.  It was taken looking west across the South Downs from a spot near the Upper Lodges of Stanmer Park.


Suldog said...

Landscapes from your part of the world (in which my family had roots) always leaves me yearning to be there. I think blood calls to me from that soil.

Your point about a daily journal is a good one. We don't write such things because it is so mundane to us, but for future generations it would likely be quite entertaining.

Buck Pennington said...

My take on blogging is similar to your original intentions -- I started writing as way to "fill in the blanks" for my sons and their kids. Where I have trouble is drawing the line in deciding what I can, and most especially what I **cannot**, include on the blog. I still have grandchildren that are tender in years.

But I do "mundane" pretty danged well.