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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Valid History

Last night, on Simon Mayo's Drivetime, it was Book Club night and the book being discussed sounded really fascinating.  The Truth According To Us by Annie Barrows is set in small town America in the Depression era.  I cannot comment on the book as I have not yet read it.  [Although I have now added it to the ever growing list of "must read" along with many Sunday supplement clippings, the Woman & Home Reading Room recommendations, my own local book club and the research for my fledgling creative writing.  No pressure...]
One discussion concerned "what is history".  Apparently, the book deals with the writing of a small town's history and the struggle to make sense of past events in the light of age-old grudges and warped memories.  Annie Barrows agreed very much with a comment that history is "about who writes it".  Very dependent on how someone or some organisation or some nation wants to be remembered.  Ms Barrows said that history is just a construct, not factual at all, "just a bunch of stories".
And I feel this resonates with many of my blog subjects in the last year.  Family history is what we make of it in the present generation.  My blog about The Demon Drink is an example.  Posts on how disease actually affected a family would be another.
John Hurt spent the whole of his Who Do You Think You Are? episode firmly convinced that he somehow came from Irish aristocracy.  He had been told so many tales over his life time that he had even convinced himself of a natural affinity with the country.  It was not true.  But it had coloured his family's view of themselves for generations.
Last weekend, I was reading a BBC History magazine (I know - my life is just so exciting...).  One of the articles was a revisionist view of the War of the Roses.  The author believes, along with many others, that Tudor propaganda aimed at cementing that family's position was responsible for substantially altering views of the pre-Tudor period.  He said, though, that it was not just down to primitive propaganda.  It was due to Shakespeare wanting to excite audiences, it was down to thrilling tales passed down and exaggerated between generations, and so on.
Look at Wolf Hall.  Tudor history rewritten in the twenty first century.  Thomas Cromwell has been a well known historical villain, of sorts, for centuries.  Now, after Hilary Mantel has finished with him, we are all feeling rather sorry for him and desperate for him not to die in the (please finish it soon, Hilary!) last of the trilogy.  Even though the fact of his death is one of the few certainties of his story.
Winston Churchill said "History is written by the victors".  Did you ever hear of a world famous book or film about German POWs escaping?  And what about Hiroshima's sufferings? 
It is not just victors though.  It is perception.  It is feelings.  In this blog, I have tried to look at how certain facts may have made participants feel and/or influenced their decisions.  I agree with Annie Barrows' assessment of history to a degree.  But history is no less valid for taking account of prevailing feelings, fashions, fortunes and families.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Pet Trees?

Yesterday our Labrador was one.  I remember blogging about her arrival last year.  Doesn't time fly when you are picking up poo and constantly hovering?!!

I do find it very interesting that she is so much part of the family though.  It has almost been like when you are waiting for a baby to arrive.  You can't imagine what it will be like when they arrive.  Then they do arrive and you can't imagine how you had a life without them, how you didn't know what they looked like.

When I blogged last year about the puppy, I was thinking about pedigree dog family trees.  It is so controlled, you know so much about the generations.

Today I was wondering about a human family tree which also named pets.  Can you imagine how many extra branches?  Well, twigs!  You could have dogs and cats with their dates and then extra twigs for hamsters, rabbits and so on.

This would provide quite an insight into some members of the family.  An unmarried sister might prove to be that cat lady cliché but you could at least recognise the beings that had enhanced her life experience.

Our dog has certainly enhanced our family's experience.  But it is funny to think that generations to come will more than likely not know of her existence let alone her importance to us.


On a completely different matter, if you are interested in Irish family history, a number of new resources have become available in the last couple of weeks.  Land records, Catholic baptisms and various others.  I have not had chance to explore them properly yet but by all accounts, they are an exciting addition.  As I have blogged before, Ireland has presented me and numerous others with very particular research difficulties so far.  Not so much brickwalls as brick buildings, three feet thick!