Friday, 10 July 2009

...and on a different continent altogether

My friend Nappy Valley left this green and pleasant land for the melting pot of the wild west, and not to be left out, I too have been venturing across the Atlantic.

I read around the blogosphere and occasionally trip over blogs that are more than worth reading/entertaining; one such is My Life As I see it...simple everyday situations which are given an enlightened animation by Tony. I love the way he makes his life enviably interesting. Anyway, I was quite chuffed when he dropped me a line to ask if I would put pen to paper when he went on his holidays (vacation). So here's the piece I scrawled:
The long hot summer holidays
and if you manage to get to the end of that, do have a rummage around his blog


Monday, 6 July 2009

In the family way

Having previously explained my saintliness, I have now to insist that when you visit here, you kneel at the throne of royalty, or at least doff your cap. Please.

Some families are close and some not. My brother and I have been virtual strangers most of our lives...I blame it on the fact that you couldn't find two more different people - he is monstrously tall, with dark skin, straight dark hair and is powerfully built. I, on the other hand, grew up with a mop of wavy white-blond hair, have always been moderately proportioned (although now find myself indulging in some horizontal development). At school, I was academically inclined and went on to university, whilst he preferred the University of Life from, well, the age of about 13. Which is an interesting comment on nature vs nurture - he was after all just as bright as me. Jobs wise, I've had a fine middle-class career whilst his jobs fluctuated. However, over recent times we have become closer...perhaps age makes the differences in our lives more interesting rather than alienating.

In general, our family has not been a close one...and I find it fascinating when I come across people who have close family ties. I'm not sure if I'm jealous or just curious. It is definitely one reason that I am so passionate about the boy keeping in touch with his sister, and disappointed that they're not as close as I would hope.

However, when I do get the opportunity to I do very much enjoy spending time with extended much as anything I find it amazing what can lie buried in the family history...even if it's run of the mill to everyone else. Just the other week, there was a gathering of the Bradstock clan...and I took a day out from work to make sure I could spend time with them.

The first thing I learnt was that Bradstock is a corruption of Bradenstoke, and the second is that there is a village which is our Mecca (not the bingo hall you uncultured lot). This is Burton Bradstock down on the south coast. If you don't want to read all, and I can't blame you, the village name comes from the local priory - Bradenstoke Priory. Now, I've not managed to research this any further, but someone mentioned...and this is the critical bit of the post...that the family name came over with the Norman conquest, and is directly linked to French Royal lineage. I like the royal...worried about the French bit.

As a result I have taken to wearing a crown around the house. And I might buy a corgi.

On a less cerebral but puff-your-chest with-pride note, I discovered that Grandma in Cyprus' cousin Alan has been significantly involved in the building in the UK of the first steam train for half a century. He is regularly to be seen riding on the footplate. The boy thinks it's pretty cool...but he's of a genration that doesn't want to grow up to be a train driver.

Food was provided by cousin David - he held the lofty position of head chef at Harrods; not Gordon Ramsey perhaps but we certainly got a fine lunch without any swearing. Other little gems were Uncle Jack (actually Grandma in Cyprus' uncle) who is 94 and still as sharp as ever. I'd like to be like that when I grow up. And the story of a great (great?) grandfather who remarried (how shocking) having previously been married into a Jewish family, quite forgetting to mention that he was born and grew up a gentile. When the offspring from our family tried to get in touch with their elder half-siblings, they were disdainfully turned away.

Rumour has it, that when a little girl, Grandma in Cyprus kept a stuffed pet rabbit on her bed, scaring the living daylights out of cousin Dorothy. But I accept that may just be a memory and a story that's got distorted over the ages. But I'd soooo love it to be true.

We seem to have a long line of butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers in our ancestry and I'm looking forward to next year's gathering.