I have many relatives who I have never met. My mother is from a town south of Sheffield, and this weekend she has been back there for a visit. There’s been a never-ending stream of pictures and texts about second cousins, and uncles and aunts once or twice removed.
There are many people who carry my mum’s maiden name up there, and since my English grandparents had lots of siblings, there are now vast numbers of people who share my genes. Right now I feel strangely curious about them, after seeing stranger’s faces with curiously familiar features on them.
My English grandfather left Yorkshire with his wife and two of his three children, my aunt and my mum, and headed down south to Sussex in the mid eighties during the worst of Thatcher’s ravaging of the north. His son was old enough to stay up north and eventually move as far in the other direction, to Stirling in Scotland, which is why I have relatives there too now.
The Scottish branch has gone entirely native, and they inform me that they will all vote Yes in the upcoming election. The Yorkshire branch has so far been a mystery to me; I have never heard discussion about any of them. Oh, there’s been casual mentions of this and that person over the years. Mum has talked to Auntie, and has mentioned some name, and then told me that it’s one of their cousins.
The other day, during the height of mum’s reporting, I was talking to one of the neighbours outside. During the talk, the phone buzzed and it was another picture from mum. When I explained to the neighbour what it was, he looked at me and said: “Ah, so you’re a Yorkshireman then”. I forget that in order to qualify as a local anywhere in this country, your family has to live there for seven generations.
After yesterday’s moving adventure, we didn’t stay that long at Stephen’s party. Still, it was relaxing and entertaining none-the-less. Stephen is good with parties, and his usually does not turn into anonymous slag-fests like some parties I’ve been to. He has a knack for finding interesting people, and then making people feel comfortable enough to relax.
Today, we’ll just stay here inside and do very little.