Sunday 24 July 2022

The Way Things Were.

Ever done any family history? If so you might have been to your local records office to check up on a snippet of information you've been told about a character that was supposedly part of your family some generations ago. 'He was in The Charge of the Light Brigade,' family hearsay says. 'He married into our family and they possibly lived in Birmingham.' So you start following the elusive trail of information, using the name of the person and the street name where he apparently lived. You check the census records trying to confirm the address. You sift through marriage records, and birth and death records, but you find nothing. However, the investigative flame bringing history alive is lit and you don't intend to extinguish it.

A few weeks go by and you need to do some carpentry in your shed. You place a piece of wood against the bench-stop and open the chest of tools, the chest that was your father's, and you take out the wooden plane. The blade is still sharp, just as your father left it. You look at the plane. It is valuable to you, sentimentally, and you caress it, thinking of your father. You remember him using the plane, it must be fifty-five years ago when you were young and he made the conservatory. You wonder if his father gave him the plane. You ponder the history of the tool and picture your grandfather holding it, working with it and you wonder where he got it from . . . was it his father? How the years go by and the people come and go, leaving their little patch of light on the scene of this world.

You have got the history bug so much by now, and so has your wife, that you decide, for your forthcoming holiday, to go 'Down Devon', to where some of your wife's recent ancestors came from. No 'Might have been' about those people because your wife went 'Down Devon' when she was a six-year-old to a particular place that sounds fascinating by her description of its isolated beauty. When you reach the place there is no encroachment by modernity since the old times. Near the ancient water mill, your wife stands again on the bridge over the river that she stood on when she was a young girl. The place is still as she remembers it, other than one feature. The cottages she stayed in on the hill at the side of the lane are no longer there. You scramble up the hill and reach the flat area at the top. The place is now covered with ferns and long grass and patches of bramble, but beneath the undergrowth, you see a dull yellow-coloured object covered by grass. You reach down through the grass and pick up a brick, part of the house your wife stayed in, now long since demolished.

That is when the next set of novels comes to your mind . . . this time they will be historical novels that will convey the value of those people no longer with us. These novels will tell of their experiences, their struggles and their triumphs over adversity and they will speak of the mark they leave upon society and upon us, their descendants. You begin writing, and some months later you finish the novel, hand a copy to your beta readers, and design the cover. You are excited. In just a few weeks the first novel of the set will be published. 

Until next time,

Keep well,