If I’d have had a better subject than Unk for the letter U, I could have written the same post for X.
My mind then turned to x-rated stuff; thinking about what may be classed as x-rated in 2018, it seems there is little In my fairly extensive tree that I could describe as x-rated. Working on military biographies for the past couple of years has brought a few situations to mind that may fit into this category, though. Often, unearthing things from people’s past, whether in military records, through newspaper reports, or court proceedings, results in discovering something that might make very uncomfortable reading for family members. The challenge then, is to write the story honestly, being aware of potential sensitivities.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds – most people, when asked, will say that they would prefer to hear the story ‘warts and all’, and is it really the researcher’s place to ‘censor’ what is passed on? Additionally, it is completely different to tell a family member a sensitive story privately so that they can decide what to do with it, than to go into print, and effectively make family secrets public. I have noticed this particularly in writing biographies of British Home Children. Usually the family members want to know every detail, no matter how small, but each needs to be asked individually how much detail they want to go into the story. Do they really want to hear the description on admission to a children’s home that reads: ‘Father dead. Mother cohabits with a notorious burglar who is now in gaol. Mother just out of gaol‘ or perhaps ‘Mother dead. Father a hawker, is a drunken worthless fellow, crippled with rheumatism. In & out of workhouse continually.‘
I had to mention x-chromosome, with the current popularity of DNA testing. As yet. I’m getting mixed results with this – the closest matches I’ve found have so far just brought more questions. Maybe once I get time to concentrate on the matches that have turned up, I’ll be able to give a more measured response.
As an endnote to my X offering, this post is published on the day that our furniture comes out of storage into the new home. In one of the boxes that we’ll open today is a plaque commemorating the short life of our second son. We don’t need a special day to remember him – that happens every day, but it will be a special moment for us to be able to unwrap his plaque and place it in the new garden. Alan, as long as we have breath you will be loved and remembered xx