Saturday, 5 May 2012

Life.

Whenever I send an email, something on which I am non too keen, I often put 'life' as the subject. Lazy in a way, but recently it has actual relevance rather than merely a lazy response to 21st century technology.The ebook with which I am concerned (A Childhood Revisited- Memories of Growing up in an English Village 1945-59) has meant looking through photographs of my distant past and reading everything available concerning my forbears. If you want to remind yourself of your mortality do exactly what I've been doing for the past few years.
I have never have been one for family trees. I've met too many people who tended to be trying to prove what absolutely splendid stock they came off and how important their ancestors were. Perhaps I'm being cynical and unfair. Perhaps I'm jealous that my own ancestry is so dodgy and murky. (Out shortly, you'll have to buy the book to find out more!) 
    What its taught me, as if I didn't know, is the shortness of our little lives, the speed that it all moves. Our fallibility, our sheer mortality.
    Photographs are, in the grander scheme of things, a somewhat modern phenomena. Paintings can go back thousands of years, photographs a mere hundred or two. ('Boulevard du Temple by Louis Daguerre, 1838 or 39, the first photo ever including a human being. A ten minute exposure of a street but included a man having his shoes polished.) Paintings tended to favour the upper classes, but once photography was invented, all classes were exposed, literally to this new phenomenon. My research has uncovered some interesting pictures used in my ebook.

Great, great grandad William, born 1816. (1817, James Monroe became the 5th American President; Barack Obama is the 44th.)
Granny Hudston, born 1875. (Alexander Graham Bell makes the first voice transmission. Jesse James robs the train in Otterville, Missouri. Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim the English Channel. 21 hours 15 minutes.)
Mary Elizabeth Stevens, my mother, born 1906. (Rolls Royce Ltd was formed. The San Francisco earthquake destroyed 75% of the city. First aeroplane flight in Europe.)

Kenneth Allan Hudston (Stevens) born 1939. The start of World War Two.

All times and dates relevant to myself and gone in the twinkling of an eye.  I do not of course remember William. But I do remember my mother and grandmother. Born so long ago. But my grandchildren will one day talk of me, granddad, gone we know not where, born so long ago. (No doubt 1939 will, to them be way back in history.)
 I wince when I see the two photos of myself. (But I am comforted by my latest reading. 'When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone by Philip Gould.) I am also comforted and amused by the fact that my ebook will hopefully prove I existed when I am gone. 

I can do no more than quote a favourite poem than I have included in the introduction to my ebook. Mind you, please note, I'm not thinking of going yet!

                                           When I am dead my dearest,
                                            Sing no sad songs for me.
                                            Plant thou no roses at my head,
                                            Nor shady cyprus tree.
                                            Be the green grass above me.
                                            With showers and dewdrops wet;
                                            And if thou wilt, remember'
                                            And if thou wilt, forget.

                                             Rosetti Christina Georgina  1830-1894

6 comments:

CWMartin said...

The poem: No matter which you choose, a hard thing to ask.

the fly in the web said...

When I die, no one will remember me.
And why should they.

But I'll burn all our photographs before they end up on a dump somewhere.

katydidit said...

Thank you for a breath of fresh air today.

Jane Gaston said...

And a beautiful poem it is too, Ken!

Bernard said...

Hi Ken. Firstly thanks for your complimentary comment on my latest blog. I am slowing down a bit now. I've been at at for over three years and I do sometimes struggle to keep up to a reasonable standard.
I would also like to thank you being the first person to push the number of comments on one post to 50. A record for my humble attempts.
It is quite a coincidence that your blog here is very similar to what I have been doing over many months, and that is - going through old photographs and negatives and attaching notes (and tales) to them so that, perhaps, those, three generations ahead, can look back and see some of their past. I can't do all this on one blog so I have started a couple of new ones. If you peruse my profile it should link to them. I am very slow. This morning I had only managed to get to VE day in 1945.
Cheers....Bernard

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi
CW Deep thinking, I'm not sure what you mean. But thanks for reading

fly in the web
I'm sure the memory of you will live on, somewhere, in someone.

katdidit

Thanks!

Jane

I often think ladies are more sensitive than us grumpy men!

Bernard

So good to hear from you. We are all getting old together! 50 comments, brilliant! re the going through old stuff, I reckon its an age thing , were afraid of losing it! Keep smiling.