Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Good Old Days

There seems to be a deal of interest television wise in the past at the moment. What do they say, 'Nostalgia ain't what it used to be'. An obvious choice I suppose, especially as the years roll by and we look, sometimes with rose tinted spectacles at our past experiences.
A two part look at Workhouses, (Secrets From the Workhouse) was a case in point. Featuring actor Brian Cox and actress Felicity Kendal and author Barbara Taylor-Bradford, the programmes showed how three 'celebrities' had family connections with Workhouses that were moving in the extreme.
Workhouses were severe, austere institutions that affected the lives of the poor, the destitute, those at the bottom of society for the whole of the Victorian era and some distance beyond. The Workhouse System ran from 1834-1929 and affected the lives of millions of people.
     Several of the instances related in the programmes were of personal interest.  (I was orphaned at the age of thirteen) and I viewed the hardships endured by the relatives of the 'celebrities' with fascinated horror but I could not get out of my mind an aspect of it all that must be common to many.
    We, especially those of 'senior years' have memories of childhood, of an era long since gone. Memories of family, of events that make us cry, laugh and occasionally wince; not too often the latter I hope. We remember mums, dads uncles and aunts. And hopefully granddads and grandmas, and perhaps great uncles and aunts. Then the fun starts! Great granddad and great grandma; and great great granddad and great great grandma and so on. What do you REALLY know about your ancestry. There seems to be a fascination for researching family trees. (I have always suspected the people who research hope to find they come from 'superior stock'. (My father is\was unknown. A funny feeling when you are seventy three! It has been suggested my father was someone who 'visited the big house.' My mother was a 'skivy' for the rich for much of her adult life. She died aged forty six or seven.)
     In the years after war some of my contemporaries had 'dodgy credentials. Dad was really uncle. No dad present but who was the  bloke who brought stockings for mum when he called and often seemed to stay the night. The village where I lived, called Ockbrook is very sought after, very, expensive and 'posh' nowadays. Now why does the term used by an old relation spring to mind. ('All fur coat and no knickers.')
One particular point concerning the celebrities centrals on their workhouse connections. All are now famous people in their own right. All knew little of their ancestry beyond, say, a third generation. So, once again I ask, why do you REALLY know about yourself.
(If anyone is interested, click on the book 'A Childhood Revisited' at the top of my blog. It will take you to the book on Amazon. The book will appear. Click on it and you can read the first twenty pages for nothing!)

An apology
To those kind individuals who have replied to recent posts. I am struggling to hold things together after the surgery. Hence the spasmodic posts. I have read all comments. Replies will recommence in time. thanks to you all.

8 comments:

Nota Bene said...

I agree with you! Some of our family have looked back in time to see the family origins...and it's nice to see how far the line can be traced. But I don't think I know any more from their efforts...I would truly love to know what life was actually like in the past. A bit grim I suspect.

Helen Devries said...

No romance about the past from what I gathered from my grandparents....

Star said...

When I think of nostalgia, a quote from Charlton Heston's autobiography comes to mind. Apparently after a couple of decades, he used to reminisce about the time spent shooting one of his films...until he found his diary from the period: "Another day spent entirely on camels."

Valerie said...

Tracing back my paternal father's side of the family revealed that the family name didn't exist beyond a certain point. The father of five children was totally untraceable. You can imagine the laughs we had trying to fix the story of our past. An aunt declared that she didn't know who she was! Sometimes the past is best left alone.

Shammickite said...

When researching my family history, I was amazed to find that babies were born AFTER marriage and families were easy to trace through the generations of both my mother's and my father's families. Not so with my late husband's family.... they take all sorts of twists and turns, including unknown fathers, running away to sea, workhouses etc....

Robert Morris said...

I have gone back about 250 years..
Very interesting read.
I do feel I missed out from certain era's in history.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

To all commenters

Interesting . In a way we are all similar in having a curiosity concerning the past. Not as important as to how we use the time allocated to us NOW! And doesn't it go quick!

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