Saturday, August 23, 2008


I have completed about as much as I can solo of the family tree, but my enthusiastic enquiries of brothers and cousins have turned up only silence. This is galling because I have far more on Stefan's side of the family, including cousins we will meet up with when in Oz in November.

That said, the female line goes straight back seven generations, mother to daughter. However I have nothing - nothing! - on my beloved grandfather, Davy Harper, and precious little on my father's family.

I have been reading a Catherine Cookson book, The Fifteen Streets, and it is such a familiar world to me, even though I left the North when I was five, and we were comparatively well off. Maybe it was the stories I heard, the pride in my aunts being schoolteachers, and my broken-down, disappointed grandfather, with his wonderful way with words and his poetry. I often wonder what would have happened if he had been educated, gone to a grammar school like the next generation. Still, my father was sent to King's College, while his sister ran the local sweet shop when she was every bit as intelligent as he was, and more astute.

I know that my paternal grandparents were politically very active, part of the working men's movement and the Labour Party when it was a bright new hope. The driving force in my mother's family was my gran. Not a comfortable woman, but she saw her youngest sister and her daughters educated, though she herself had to give up her ambition to be a doctor and go to work at fourteen when her father died. I know so little of him, but I'm sure he encouraged her and inspired her, before her dreams for herself turned to shame and bitterness.


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