Jim Morrison would have been 75 today. Was never gonna make it.
Since City Jackdaw has been flying, I think I’ve probably made a Remebrance Sunday post every year. Except yesterday.
As usual we spent the day, which coincided with the Armistice Centennial, by visiting the memorial on which the names of past family members are listed. It’s this personal connection that gives context to the wider impact of that war.
As I didn’t post yesterday, I will share this photograph today: it’s from when I visited the grave of my Gt Grandfather, Timothy O’Sullivan, in 2007, ninety years to the day since he died. He is buried in Thessaloniki. A plot that is forever England.
While at the football stadiums all around the country players and fans are observing a minute’s silence for tomorrow’s Remembrance Sunday, I just learned that Heart of Midlothian (Hearts) was the first British club whose players signed up en masse for World War One.
Sixteen players enlisted, and on the first day of the Battle of the Somme three died. Of the sixteen in total, seven died in the war and seven were seriously injured.
That’s the kind of statistic that brings home just how devastating that war was.
My favourite actress would have been 105 years old today.
I recently finished reading a biography about possibly my country’s greatest actress: Vivien Leigh. Triumphant and tragic, always lovely, ever fragile, her most difficult part was that of her own life.
My post on an old movies site on Facebook provoked a conversation about her being England’s greatest actress. I was asked what it was about her that made me of this opinion, and how she faired in comparison to the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren. (The question was asked in all innocence, purely out of curiosity, as it was posed by a fan of Vivien’s who was curious as to why I hold her in such similar esteem.)
I replied that both Judi Dench and Helen Mirren are fine actresses, (Elizabeth Taylor too), but to me there seems a certain gravitas in both Leigh’s performances and in her attitude towards her craft. Most of her…
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This is the time of year when the act of remembering seems to take precedent, whatever your persuasion. From a pagan perspective there was Halloween/Samhain yesterday. For those of a Christian mind today is All Saints Day, followed by tomorrow’s All Souls Day. Even if you don’t wear either of these labels, Remembrance Sunday is also almost upon us.
Maybe it’s when we see see the seasonal decay of the world around us, combined with the shortened hours of daylight, that we instinctively turn inward, thinking about our own mortality and of the roots from which we have sprung.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Yesterday, my daughter and I visited an old cemetery in Harpurhey, Manchester. It’s one of those old cemeteries where it seems burials no longer take place, and to see flowers placed upon a grave is a rare thing indeed.
It’s a cemetery of the forgotten, a cemetery where the dead who reside there have nobody left in the world who can enshrine them in remembrance.
There, among the mouldering rows was a particular grave that we were seeking out. A grave that held the remains of ten people that had connections to us both. Ancestors of four generations.
I remember the first time that I stood on this spot with my father. I asked him who the John Murray was that was listed on the headstone, curious as this man was the one who shared my surname and went the furthest back in time.
“I’m not sure,” my Dad replied. “I think he was an uncle of your Granddad’s.”
Once I began my family history research I soon discovered that this man was actually my Dad’s grandfather.
How easily things become forgotten. Lost.
Not long after that day I began my search, born of curiosity and an undefinable sense of belonging. Of the ten people listed on that headstone, three of them I had known in life. Seven, (possibly eight), I now have photographs of.
Mindful of both the responsibility I have acquired and of the passing years, yesterday I brought my eleven year old daughter with me to Harpurhey. The next generation. To her I will eventually pass the baton.
Their stories I have recorded, and tell to my children. In this way I keep these people alive.
In regard to my blog, these stories are for another time. For now, I list the people here.
May they be forever remembered.
Charles Hewitt 1847-1884
Amelia Hewitt (née Wolfenden) 1847-1901
John Murray 1862-1926
Kate Amelia Murray 1903-1926
Frank Murray 1912-1928
Kate Ann Murray (née Hewitt) 1872-1939
Frank Murray 1950-1954
Millicent Murray 1899-1989
Margaret Murray 1914-1990
Fred Murray 1915-1992
Not a bad one, is it?