Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The importance of seeing Ernest('s house)

I'm a little late back from my lunch today, just passing through Tottenham Hale (which 'Digital Doris' tells me has step-free access!) on the 'Vic'.

Amidst all the madness, I have been trying to do things at lunchtimes which don't involve work or legal drafting. Today, having posted our census form, I dug out the 1911 census forms relating to our family, of which I bought copies when they were released.

William was your Great, Great, Great Grandfather - and I've just visited his house - I think!

A century ago this week, William, his wife Francis and seven of their eight children were living in York Road, in Walthamstow. William was a 'Paperhanger' - which we think referred to wallpapering rather than bill-posting, since others described him as a painter and decorator.

Ernest, his son, then 18, was working as a Draper's Assistant, and was to become your great, great grandfather. His daughter, your direct relative, was born, lived and died in the period between when his name was entered on the form above and when I read it as the first member of our family to do so in almost a century.

Of course, this year's census asks rather more of us than was the case back in 1911. I will only be able to find out so much about our ancestors of a century ago. Ironically, though, this year's form didn't give me any opportunity to record the fact that I am your father, or that I have a child at all - or to give qualitative information to explain our current circumstances.

In common with many people, I told them to 'Mind their own' regarding religion, and generally showed the disdain for the process you would expect from someone being harmed daily by the state.

I don't know if you will be around in 2111, or indeed if the originals will be kept for people to view - possibly only the data will remain. But if our descendents care to look, and are able to, I have left on the form a gesture of remembrance of you, to interest the genealogists of the future, and to provide clues to their heritage.

I wonder what Ernest and William would make of you and me if they met us today. The world has undoubtedly changed a lot since they lived in the unassuming house I briefly visited today. Perhaps, I pondered as I returned to work, it is not so much seeing where we have been that shapes us, but realising that one day, others might look back in our direction, to seek out who, and what, we were.

I wonder what they will make of us...

Love from Daddy.

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