Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Never stop asking the family questions .........

It might seem a daft suggestion .... but if you don’t ask the questions about what aunt Mabel did in the Land Army or cousin Eric’s time as a sushi waiter in Greenwich, the stories will be lost forever.

Mum, circa late 1940s
Trust me, over the last decade I have told myself off countless times for not asking about the family.

Of course when you are young there are too many other things to do, added to which your parents will have been busy with going to work, bringing up the family and just getting by, and so like as not never get round to telling you the family history.

And research is no substitute for the original stories which might be embellished but often come with photographs, letters and all sorts of old stuff.

I have spent years pulling together half forgotten stories which with the passage of sixty years I had come to believe were invented, only to discover that they were true.

All of which leads to the day mum and dad got married. We, were not even sure they had been, but yesterday the certificate arrived, which showed they were married in 1952, three years after I was born and three years before my twin sisters came along.

Dad, date unknown
And there hangs the gapping void, because there are no pictures, no stories and no one left to ask the questions, like, did they all go back to Lausanne Road, fall into the Swiss Tavern or took tea and cakes in Jones & Higgins.

Of the two witnesses, one was Uncle George and the other an M. A. Barlow.

If never occurred to us to ask Uncle George and despite hours of searching all I know is that M. A. Was Mary Ann Barlow, was old enough to vote in 1952 and lived at 18 Gairloch Road.  Not much I know.

Now given I now live in Manchester, I have made an appeal for anyone who has a period picture of the Camberwell Registry Office and access to the local papers of that year to scan the list of marriages for the twenty second of March, 1952.

I doubt after a passage of 66 years the appeal will yield anything but you never know.

Mum in Rhyl, date unkown
And it is not about wanting to add a shedload of dates and names to build a timeline, just the curiosity of wanting to know a bit more about mum and dad and in particular a moment in their lives which in turn is about wanting to tell their story and through that story add to our own sense of family.

In the meantime I am stirred to tell my sons of their London family and by extension spread the stories amongst my nieces and nephews and anyone else who wants to know.

Just so they don’t have to ask the questions which no one can answer.

Location; One family

Pictures; Mum & Dad, 1940s-50s, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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