My last post was about cousins visiting and their visit allowed me to tell them a tale about a small “claim to fame” you may have heard, although I have not mentioned it yet on a post here, so I will elaborate if I may… It involves a handshake or two…
When I was in my early 20s (yes, I know…ages ago!) I was manning a stall at a Liberal conference one September and we had lots of people come to the stand during the week – it was for the Liberal Ecology Group I seem to recall (it is just possible it was a year or two earlier when I was at University still, in which case it may have been in the mid-60s?) One of the visitors to the stand was a very elderly lady. I am not really sure who it was and I didn’t think to ask at the time but at one point I thought it might have been Lady Megan Lloyd George but I now know it cannot have been (see below!)
Anyway, this lady had rather a posh voice so when she told her tale she didn’t say “When I was a little girl…” she said “When I was a little gell…” She came to the stand and had a brief conversation about the topic of the stand and wished us luck with it, so at least she supported whatever we were promoting at the time; and then she said, before she left the stand…
“Shake my hand, young man.” It WAS a long time ago remember, so I obliged and shook her hand and then she said, “When I was a little gell, I was introduced to William Gladstone, and shook his hand, so you are now only one handshake away from William Gladstone…” and then walked away with her little entourage to one of the other stands and no doubt repeated the exercise and the story!
She was rather a grand old lady, so I am rather sorry I cannot now recall who she was. However, she was certainly NOT Megan Lloyd George (daughter of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, of course and the first woman MP in Wales) since she was not born until 1902 and Gladstone died before the turn of the century! Also Megan Lloyd George died in 1966 and, although I went to a Liberal Conference that year, she had died before the conference and, anyway, 64 does NOT make her a very elderly lady – remember it was my 65th birthday recently, before you say anything!
So, my new Brazilian cousins enjoyed the story, as well as enjoying being only TWO handshakes away from a famous British Prime Minister. And incidentally, since Gladstone would have, at least formally, held Queen Victoria’s hand to kiss it more than once, I am only two handshakes away from Queen Victoria!! Amazing how time flies!
When I visited Australia in 2009, niece Lisa and family took me to a Sunday market near their home and there was a local political group with a stand, handing out leaflets, again something to do with the environment, a pet topic of mine, so I got into conversation with them. And I was prompted to relate my tale about the handshakes to them. The two people I talked to were hardly out of their teens, maybe 21 or so and I can just imagine in another 40 years one of them relating their tale to distant cousins… “When I was a young lad in Sydney, this elderly English guy with silver hair came up to me, shook my hand and said… … …” So William Ewart Gladstone’s handshake will only be three handshakes away from someone in 2050 or ’60 or ’70 depending on how long the Australian people live.
Indeed, if I manage to last a few years longer and then shake hands with a child of five or six who can recall the story (assuming I can still remember to tell the story!?) that Gladstone handshake will still only be ‘third-hand’ into the 22nd Century!!
Come to think of it my handshake goes back (fourth-hand) via Queen Victoria, perhaps?, to the mad King George lll if, and only if, he held the little hand of his baby grand-daughter when she was an infant…but that is probably too much of a stretch for such a miniscule “Claim to Fame!”
200 years for four handshakes is not bad, though, is it?
Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia, thank you..
PS Gordon Lishman kindly suggested the lady in question might have been Lady Violet Bonham Carter, who was born in 1887 and died in 1969 and the picture in Google looks like the lady I recall – long thin face and pearls included! Thanks Gordon http://www.flickr.com/photos/fawbs/2902679403/