Show and tell… another genealogical tale

I was looking for something to do a few minutes ago because Fatima is watching a “Novella” on TV and it is in Portuguese. So, first things first….I sometimes watch along with her because it helps me learning the language but my mind wasn’t in the mood for learning this evening and since “Novellas” are just ‘Soaps’ and I don’t really like soaps I decided to do something different….but what?

[“Why don’t you like soaps?” I hear you ask… Well… the main reason is that so many of them – you know, all the ones I don’t watch but have, perhaps, seen an odd episode of (!!), always seem so melodramatic and there always has to be a lot of shouting at each other. I have just heard a shouted conversation on the one I am not watching now, for example – it just seems rather tiresome. Mind you, just a few minutes before that we heard a very cross shouting match from one of the houses across the road – a real one! Unfortunately my Portuguese is not yet good enough to report what they were shouting about!]

Now, where was I? Oh yes…looking for something to do other than watch TV…so, I thought I would check my WordPress statistics for my blog. Hmmm, not many visits today, so I got to reading the WordPress notes on the statistics page and saw an article (a blog, in fact) about the “Daily Challenge”. My brain did not want to do the learning a language role this evening but it clearly did fancy looking for a bit of a challenge. So, let’s read about the Daily Challenge, see if it leads to anything I can do.

There it is then… this is what they wrote:-

How it works: Every Monday, we lay out a different challenge along with tips on tackling it, useful resources, and example posts. You read, think, ask questions (we’ll be here!), and get to blogging, tagging your posts with “DPchallenge.” We keep an eye on the tag and highlight the week’s best posts on Freshly Pressed each Friday.

The Challenge this week is to look at what happened during the day and then write a blog starting with a bland factoid and delving into … well, whatever you want really, using the factoid as a hook. OK, so next thing is that I have to “…review my day” and find a bland fact which will act as the hook for the journal post.

Well, I have been at home all day waiting for a workman to show up – he never did, of course. They never do when you wait in all day – well, that is a bland fact … but writing about waiting…didn’t somebody famous do that? Google check reveals it was Samuel Beckett and his play “Waiting for Godot”  was voted “the most significant English language play of the 20th century“, according to Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_Godot so I had better not try and compete with Old Sam.

I also watched Sir Chris Hoy get another Gold Medal for cycling but that will be the central “proper fact” for loads of newspaper articles tomorrow, I cannot use it as a bland factoid. Much too good for that – by the way “Well done Sir Chris!” from me! I was most impressed and not a little moved, as an expatriate, to see you win as, indeed, I was seeing Andy Murray win the tennis…and, …and. No, I had better not try and write about the Olympics.

Then the words “Show and Tell” jumped out at me from the WordPress article and took my mind back to long visit to Australia just over three years ago. I had been in touch, through Genes Reunited, with a distant cousin (fifth cousin, once removed, I believe was the technical term for the relationship) When I knew I would be going to Australia, I asked whether they might be in to visitors. They very kindly said yes, so I arranged my itinerary to call on them in Perth.

Cutting a long story short enough for this post, I duly called on cousin Lois. Her husband met me at the airport because, at the time I arrived, it was her afternoon for “Scrap-booking” with a group of friends. The friends were still there when we got to the house and I was introduced all round and the discussion turned to genealogy and one of the ladies there said the local genealogy group would be meeting…on Monday evening – you’d be very welcome to come along!

Well, it sounded like a good idea and Monday arrived and we went to the group meeting….tea, coffee, drinks and nibbles. Again, I was introduced all round and sat listening to stories of great uncles in the first World War and the arrival in Australia of ancestors on convict ships and library searches and so on. The idea was that each member of the group would bring something along to each meeting in the form of a “Show and Tell”.

Of course, when it was Cousin Lois’s turn to “Show and Tell” I happened to be the ‘item’ on show! “…and here’s my fifth cousin once removed, visiting from England!” After my cousin had told about me as well as shown me to the group I felt it was only right I should join in and do a little Show and Tell myself.

So, I told them a little bit about my own genealogical investigations and told a little tale about one of my ancestors, one Bennit Swain, who was the joint owner of a steam packet – a small paddle steamer, I believe – which ran a daily service up the river Witham from Boston on the coast of Lincolnshire to the County town of Lincoln. The boat started off from Boston at four in the morning, arriving in Lincoln at about 8am and then left Lincoln again at four in the afternoon getting their passengers back to Boston for eight in the evening. Wow, what a long day!

I noticed that the lady who had been at Lois’s ‘Scrap-booking’ was looking very interested as my story unfolded. It turned out that she had, just recently been doing some genealogical research into a relation of hers in Lincolnshire… from the Boston area, in fact… called Bennit Swain.

So, I had flown 12,000 miles to Australia, visiting a distant cousin and whilst at a genealogical meeting there, I had met ANOTHER cousin I had known nothing about. Now, isn’t THAT a small world!?

By the way, as I finish writing, one of the characters in the Novella, Gabriela, has just shot and killed his wife and her lover. Did I say melodramatic? Gabriela is set in Brazil in the 1920s  onwards when you could shoot your spouse if discovered “in flagrante” and you would remain unpunished.  Also by the way the ‘shouting’ was in the soap before Gabriela! Much less shouting in Gabriela…

About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
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1 Response to Show and tell… another genealogical tale

  1. Fun post – love the way you wove the Novellas through it – but the best part is finding a new link on your family tree – wonderful!!

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