"You just wrote this out, didn't you? You haven't rejigged anything?"
"Yes, I looked at it again. I mean I wrote it longhand and then when I typed it up I tried to balance it out, the rhythms in my head worked better another way, stuff like that."
"Oh"... "OK"... "Well..."
"How shit is it?"
"Where did you write it?"
"In Pret. No in Starbucks, then Pret, I had to move because the toilet was out of order - there was a sign."
"What did the sign say?"
"Out of Order"
"Maybe you should pay more attention to the signs."
"There's only one outlet and those bitches aren't even using it they're sitting there babbling in ubusubumaryan or something. They haven't a clue how annoying they are babbling and jabbering and all the time the power is soaking away fro my phone and there are at least three people I really needed to phone earlier but I decided I'd leave it till now because I knew there'd be somewhere to sit and charge up and I've already drunk too much coffee today and my bladder is prodding me and now the fucking toilet's out of order too... On Oxford Street!"
You called me
Then you texted me
Then you called and left a message
Saying you couldn't remember
Which one I preferred
Anyway you'd love to talk sometime
OK. Thanks. Bye.
I'm not listening to all of their conversation and I can't hear most of it, but it gradually became clear that they were police officers. And the way I could tell was because of jargon ("DCI", "shift pattern", "offences", "21 years service", "The Federation") rather than the subject matter, which was the regular conversation of people working in large bureaucratic organisations, viz. the difficulty of working with people in a people-focused organisation that is run as if it were a machine and all the people just interchangeable parts ("handovers", "bullet points", "stress", "Do they know or are they just stupid?", "Do they know everything that's going on, or nothing at all?", "Just about had enough", "dropping like flies".)
I've had a couple of people ask me whether I was upset by Rhodri Marsden's piece today in the Independent entitled "Am I the only person in the world who hates the ukulele?". Um, no, I thought it was funny in places and a bit silly and provocative in the way that I'm sure I'd be every now and then if I had a column in a Sunday paper and (I don't know how it works, but I assume) having someone else edit what I say anyway.
I don't know Rhodri, the closest I've been is seeing him play the saw at Interesting 2007 when I was one of the comperes, but I get that he's a real musician and I imagine this just seemed like a funny idea for a piece and a chance to wind a few people up. But even taking this article seriously, which I don't think one should, having a go at ukuleles now is a bit like having a go at synth players in the eighties because "everyone" had a Casio PT-1.
It struck me as a bit like that piece sometime in the last year when they declared "peak beard". I wasn't offended by that and I didn't for a moment think of having a shave. I don't have a beard because of fashion and I don't play uke just because everyone else is (are they? no.). I also saw an article today declaring the death of the hipster, which let people know that if they couldn't identify a hipster already, they were those skinny boys with big beards, tattoos and playing a ukulele while nibbling a cupcake. Or something. Silly. I'm not skinny, I don't have any tattoos (that I know of), I don't eat cupcakes and I have a modest little beard. But one day walking through Austin at SXSW the other year, someone I didn't know who was introduced to me by someone else I didn't really know, said with a sneer "Oh you're English and you play the ukulele, isn't that a bit twee? Do you force your audience to eat crumpets?"
For the record. I'm not a fan of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain either - I think that playing Radiohead or Coldplay songs on the uke is a bit boring. I can't get on with mass uke-ups, although I approve of their democratisation of music - it's partly my narcissistic desire to stand out from the crowd and partly that the playing sinks to the lowest common denominator - also not every uke player can and should be allowed to sing! If I'm going to play with other people, I'd much rather they were playing different, complementary instruments and preferably that they are all better musicians than I am. I'm glad that ukes are replacing recorders as the instrument of choice for introducing children to music, because recorders.
So yeah, thank you for your concern and thank you for remembering I'm that bloke who plays the ukulele, but I'm not upset and I certainly don't take it personally.
Just writing wedding invitations and I'm struck by the fashion in the mid to late part of the last century for using a 'y' for an 'i' in naming children. Or is it an affectation that people took on for themselves, whether ironically or not. Like Ryk. It's not just this combination, there were lots the other way Randy, Mandy -> Randi, Mandi and variations on Kait, Cait, Kayte, Cate. What is that? A desire for conformity with a twist of wacky spelling? Or what? Feeling inferior because you were one of 5 Michaels in your class?
I've just set up an IFTTT to cross-post from my Fargo blog to tumblr. Let's see.
UPDATE: rats! I've already got IFTTT pointing to a different tumblr blog....
SO: I've changed it so that it uses "post via e-mail" instead.
I went busking again today. Just now. From 5pm to 6pm roughly, outside Wandsworth Town Station. I decided to do it at around 4 this afternoon, I'd had one of those days where I'd like to go out and shout at people in the street and so I thought I might as well do it in a socially-acceptable way that even includes some small pecuniary gain.
It's fun, but I'd forgotten what hard work it is. Of course it doesn't require much lifting of heavy weights or knotty intellectual problems, but it is a physical act even though I'm just jiggling around a little and playing my ukulele while singing. And it's been warm today. I came home glowing.
It's been a while. I'm not sure why I stopped. Probably the paucity of the pecuniary gain in comparison to the physical exertion. But I do enjoy doing it. I enjoy performing for a sudden, temporary audience. I enjoy the puzzled looks of the construction workers, the befuddlement and hilarity of the teenagers who find a fat middle-aged white bloke in a sweaty t-shirt very amusing indeed. I enjoy making the grey corporate stooges look the other way - I know the sort of day they've had and no matter how frustrated I've been today by self-unemployment and banging my head against a creative wall, I've had complete freedom today to choose what I did and when and how and when I had a cup of tea and whether I can have a nap after lunch. I didn't have to call someone I hate and I didn't have to sit in meetings with people I'm scared of.
And no, I also didn't earn the one-hour equivalent of an £80k package with generous benefits, but I did give two little kids an excuse to dance manically and I made a couple of young ladies blush when I sang "Ain't she sweet?" and they clearly believed I was singing it straight at them. And when I'd had enough, I scooped up the loose change (no folding money today!) into a baggie and accepted a small foil tray of Vegetable Biriani from the nice chaps from Amira's Kitchen down the road who were giving out samples.
I said I'd write something for the B31Voices hyperlocal blog, so this is a kind of draft for that.
I went back to school on Saturday. My old school. My junior school to be precise. From 1972 to 1975 (because I left early) I was a pupil at St Laurence's CofE Junior School on Bunbury Road in Northfield. I'd started school at the Infants, which then was on the original site at the top of Church Hill, three years earlier. I was also baptised at St Laurence's Church when I was 6 years old (it seems my parents waited until my brother was born to baptise all three of us at the same time).
I have very fond memories of the Junior School. I had all sorts of mixed feelings about school after that, but Junior School rocks. You get to sit with the same people all day everyday and make good friends, and there's no huge academic pressure (bar the 11-plus, which I left to avoid) instead there's a good mix of reading, writing, arithmetic, art, music and physical stuff. I strongly remember thinking about writing a poem for the first time, the thrill of moving up a colour on the reading scheme, making tie-die t-shirts, doing finger painting and getting carried away getting poster paint all over all the desks, someone (a pupil) doing a streak (!), just running back and forth over the back playground, having a three-a-side football league playing with those little plastic skeleton balls on the front playground, planting a tree not in '73 but '74, learning French with "Madame", starting to write with an ink pen, crisps going up from 3p to 3 1/2p to 4p all in one term and the crisp-strike that ensued. And it was where I first remember being on stage and seeing others on stage, doing readings at Christmas - "And it came to pass that there came a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed, and all went to be taxed, each unto his own city." And doing old-time music hall songs -"Hello, hello, who's your lady friend?".1
And as it was a Christian school, I also remember loving the stories about Jesus and the Disciples. Healing the sick, getting lame people to walk, miracles, the excitement of Christmas, the bitter-sweet story of Holy Week. And the hymns, starting every day with a jolly good sing song - brilliant!
Now, today's children are having that experience and on Saturday we got a glimpse of it, in between the waves of nostalgia and occasional pangs of half-remembered trauma (being late for assembly, scraping your knees on the tarmac, not wearing the right clothes when the photographer was coming).
There was a fire engine in the drive when we got there. Of course I'd have loved to climb on it, but they were only letting kids on. There was a long, long queue (almost the length of the drive itself) for pony rides on one field and there was a mega bouncy castle on the other field. It felt a bit naughty walking down the drive rather than going round to the Innage Rd entrance. There were a lot of people there. Lots of them probably were former pupils but there was no formal system for identifying them. I happened to bump into Gail Battersby (née Alldrit) when we were in the "old photo" room and saw her pointing to herself in a picture that I was also in. We had a moment of saying hello and watching each others faces go in and out of focus before we could connect the names with the 1972 faces with the 2014 faces. She's looking a lot better 40 years on than me!
I needed to catch up today with Nick, who's going to be my Best Man in September, so we arranged to meet at the Tate for a coffee. We ended up not talking about September very much at all.
He'd been delayed a little, and when he rang to apologise he also said "Do you want to go to a thing at the Globe this afternoon? I've got comps." I had no idea what "Last Days of Troy" was but I said yes, as is good practice.
Once we'd found each other and grabbed a coffee from Monmouth in Borough Market, we toddled back to Tate Modern and had a stroll around the Matisse show. There's a lot of it. I could easily have spent another hour in there, going back to the beginning and going more slowly, but really lovely stuff. Those shows are a bit pricey, but if you can find a member to go with, always worthwhile. I came out refilled. There's something about seeing those paper-cut pieces close up, seeing the gouache on the paper and the lines not as even and rounded as when you see a print or a digital copy scrunched down to 320x240px. And there's also something about seeing these pieces after seeing years of copies and derivatives and trying to grasp the newness of this stuff in the 1940s.
We went up onto the members' room balcony to get rehydrated and have a chat about art and us and what we do and why we (I, actually, he's doing alright!) don't do enough and the importance of saying what you want to do, to the right people.
And then we went round to the Globe. I hadn't realised it was going to be 3 hours and that our "comps" were for the £5 groundling tickets anyway so we'd be standing up for 3 hours. But still, it's theatre, innit? I also wasn't really sure who Lily Cole was. I kind of recognise her face, but didn't know she was a model really. Have I seen her act in anything else? Well, 3 hours was too long, whether you were standing up or not. I spent a lot of time trying not to think about how much my feet were hurting. Luckily there was some space in the shade otherwise I'd have been applying heavy layers of after-sun by now.
Michael Billington, in his review of the show when it was at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, described Lily Cole's performance as "inexpressive". For once, I agree with Billington. And I'd add "to the point of almost invisibility" - there were times when I didn't realise she was on stage until she spoke and I can't believe that's deliberate. None of the women are very strong and the men don't come over as warriors - Achilles has spent a lot of time in the gym, but even when riled, I didn't believe he'd ever seen much fighting. The centrepiece Hector vs Achilles fight was very dancey and all the men do this kind of big, meat-chewing, declaiming, straining every facial muscle they have while they strut up and down and prowl around each other. As a play it's not a bad take on the Iliad, it assumes that you know the backstory of how Helen ended up in Troy and how they're all related and how the Gods were involved - there's some apple business but nothing's said about why. I liked the way that the Gods were handled, remembering that they're immortal, but have been sidelined, and a kind of family business. Still.
I'm up earlier than usual on a Saturday. Partly because I'm sleeping quite well post-osteopath, partly because the bloody sun's shining.
On days like today, I can believe that we're going to have a pleasant sunny summer. One where it only really gets too hot around midday and during which the mornings are all this glorious sunny but cool and I can just sit on the balcony and watch the river go by.
On my walk back from town yesterday, I paused on Albert Embankment. Just opposite the Millbank Tower there's a boat moored that's a restaurant. I've dined on a river-moored boat (not this one) once or twice, I never much cared for the slight motion of the tide coming in or going out. Anyway, I paused because the tide was coming in and there was a group of birds gathered on the sandbank that was about to disappear - there were four geese and half a dozen gulls. They were picking through the floaty soup of plastic that gets relaunched when the water returns. I can't believe they don't accidentally get bits of polystyrene packaging along with any organic material. And blimey, their guts must be very different from ours if they can drink that river water and survive for long. The geese were in pairs and standing quite still, while the gulls alternated between sitting in the water and flying around, squawking.
Apart from the birds, I noticed two other things. There was a strange flow of water. I assume it's a sudden change in depth, a bank of some sort underwater, and it doesn't exactly cause whirlpools but the river does flow back on itself for a bit, it was about 10 feet wide (ie across the flow of the river) and about four feet the other way. Just a bit odd. The whole river's moving of course, but that bit looks like it's more dynamic because it's going against the rest, it has a kind of outline because of it.
The other thing was the wood. There was something that looked like a railway sleeper, a couple of short stumpy logs (as tall as they were wide, so the best part of a cubic foot) and a misshapen smaller piece that looked like one of those lost but vital parts of a child's toy that you find under the sofa, only this too was about a foot long. And all four pieces were making their way upstream with the tide. They'd been stranded by the boat and I watched as the water rose and gently picked them all up, one at a time, and carried them off towards Vauxhall Bridge.
Had a funny walk in this morning, I was talking to someone on the phone when I left and so didn't think too hard, just set off along the river. Then I realised it was about half past nine and I was only at the bottom of Battersea High St and I'd have quite liked to be at the RFH for #tuttle at ten. So what to do? Couldn't remember the selection of buses from Battersea Park Road, but walked up there anyway. By the time I got up there, I'd figured that there wasn't anything that was going to get me all the way to Waterloo and I was really resisting going to Clapham Junction because... well I'd been walking for forty minutes and I'd only got to Clapham Junction. But carrying on to Queenstown Road would have been silly so I walked up Falcon Rd and got on a train.
Tony was there when I arrived. Oh before that I got a coffee from the place where they write your name on the cup, the one on Waterloo station. And today's version of my name was "LYLOD" so when the poor barista called "Black Americano for .... um... " I said, "I expect that's mine" and shared a chuckle.
So yes, Tony was there when I arrived. We talked a lot about walking in the city and thinking with your body; and rhythms and drummers "having time"; and writing about walking; and teaching by doing alongside; and needing an audience; and how "audience" isn't quite the right word for what we have now.
I see this most purely on instagram. I don't have an audience, I share my stuff and there's a gang of us that I expect will see it, but I'm always as interested in what else is in the stream. When I'm walking and making pictures it can be harder because I'm out and can't necessarily see the screen against the sun or reflections or else my eyes just aren't working very well, but I do try not to just get into "push mode". I think there's lessons there for contributing to or participating in other streams.
On the way back I walked as far as Queenstown Road station. I went along the river. I'm guessing that when the Battersea Power Station development is finished, you'll be able to walk all the way along the river path but you have to dodge inland a bit around that development. They've new-ish hoardings up with "LIVE ORIGINAL" in massive wooden letters nailed on. I'm surprised that there isn't more graffiti - and now I think about it, I don't remember seeing any on any of the (way too many) boards surrounding construction sites. Are they graffiti-proofed or is it about the security guys and surveillance? Or is it something else? Is it a sign that this gentrification is actually very welcome in this part of South West London? Um. No. I can't really believe that one, certainly not with the kinds of people who would do graffiti in the first place.
I allowed myself to stop and instagram along the way. It's a little distraction from the rhythm of the walk, but it's not too bad, especially when I'm on the home leg. I see there's going to be a Rhubarb Patch by the river in Nine Elms - it has it's own little area already laid out and well-manured.
I must try the coffee shop in the Queenstown Road station but I'm always on the way somewhere else. Next time perhaps.
I went to see the osteopath this morning. At 9am! She practices in Morden, so it was an opportunity to take the tram, although on that little bit down from Wimbledon, you wouldn't really know you were on a tram particularly (as opposed to the open-plan tube or overground trains).
It was nice to have someone pay attention to my shoulder. I was warned that I might feel a bit weird afterwards. I'm not experiencing that much at the moment - I've had massages that have left me feeling much more zonked, but who knows, it might kick in after a night's sleep or something.
She did two big clicks on me. The first was the one where you put your hands on the back of your head and they wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, CLICK. The other time she used the weight of her body on me while lying down. There's no way to describe that (believe me I've just tried several other ways and deleted them all) without it sounding a bit shady, but it wasn't at all like that. Yes, I went to a suburban house this morning and in exchange for cash, a young lady made me lie down and then pressed down on me with her body until something in my back went click. Let's move on.
She did other things too, but quite a few of them were not easy to describe. At one point, I said to her "Oh that's interesting, I notice that you're doing something but it doesn't seem that you're doing anything." Which is a bit like some of my work, I show up and do nothing, but it's not really nothing.
My shoulder is free from pain, but then it had been a lot less painful since Tuesday morning. I just also have the feeling that something is going on inside me that I'm not going to be aware of until later.
She was very chatty. I suppose I'm comparing it with massage again, where people generally just be quiet and expect me to be quiet. Perhaps it's a technique to get you thinking about something other than what she' doing with her hands.
I'm aware that I've spent a lot of time in my life avoiding using my shoulders in a way that might hurt them, I've been hyper-defensive. She suggested swimming as good exercise - crawl or backstroke - and I realised that I just decided at some point that I couldn't do anything other than breaststroke because I was afraid of hurting my shoulder. So I've just been holding that fear in my upper body. She said at the end that it didn't seem to be so much a problem with the shoulder as the way I was compensating with my upper back and neck muscles.
So. I've got some exercises to do and I'm going back next week.
I set off this morning for a repeat of the Trinity Rd jaunt to Tooting Bec and I had a couple of podcasts to listen to on the way. A R4 doc from a few weeks ago about startup culture in London, which was, well, just a bit naive - not enough to have me shouting at my mp3-player but certainly worthy of a few exasperated sighs on the edge of Wandsworth Common.
I then finally managed to listen to Debbie Harry's Desert Island Discs, which had some interesting talk (though it was one of those with an American where they aren't really familiar with the format and treat it like any other talk show - ie they don't give anything away that isn't linked to what they're promoting. Maybe I was just feeling uncharitable after the startup documentary). I dunno, I guess I also wanted more of her selections to be like "White Light, White Heat" and to be rooted in my post-punk adolescence, instead of emphasising that she's the same age as my mother.
That took me to Tooting Bec. I didn't fancy a strong coffee in the nice coffee shop there, so I turned right and walked down to Tooting Broadway. There's really some good photography to be done there, lots of interesting buildings still and shop signs. A purple church! But I didn't have my camera out, I was walking walking.
I'd overdone it by the time I got to the Broadway, so I slipped into the new Starbucks rather than try something more artisanal further along. And I sat there and made some notes before being spotted as a "Dadda" by a baby being fed spag bol. This happens a lot. The mothers tell me, it's the beard. Anyone with a beard is "Dadda". I don't remember this from having babies myself, but then perhaps there weren't so many beards around then.
I ignored the fact that I'd overdone it already and started walking up Garratt Lane. The drizzle had started, which was quite refreshing, so I plodded on, thinking about presenting Works In Progress, perhaps doing a monthly thing at C4CC where I talk about what I've been working on. Hmmmmm... I'd actually rather do something in South London - is the South London HackSpace getting anywhere? Ah yes, I see it's in Herne Hill, just that little bit far for me. Still, might be worth a look.
And suddenly I was almost at Earlsfield and my Achilles tendons were getting sore, so I sat at the bus stop and waited for a Number 44. It went 3 stops and the driver had to get out to go to the loo. That's never happened to me before. As someone else on the bus said, he'd only got on at Tooting, he should have gone before he started work. But you never know what's going on with people's waterworks, do you? No, and I don't want to know particularly, thank you.
In the end the bus ride from Earlsfield took about 45 minutes because of the traffic. So I was actually out for quite a while altogether. I wonder what I missed.
Starting to think about social ways to help increase participation in next year's General Election. I spent some time looking for other people already doing stuff in the UK. Seems to boil down to the Electoral Commission although GOV.UK is also rebuilding the electoral roll system to create individual registration rather than doing it by household. Will be interesting to see what (if anything) changes with that.
I'm not sure what the dynamics are around registration - in the 2010 General Election about 93% of the voting-age population were registered, meaning that the voter turnout figure most quoted of 66% is actually only 61% of the VAP. However, maybe 93% is as good as it gets, don't really know what the factors are in this - I assume that there are some exclusions but that then it's down to people moving and not registering or else not wanting Government to know where they are.
And then there's the more obvious issue of getting people out to vote on the day itself. What social things could we do to encourage voting? What #wewillgather type of things? Could one say "I'm going to vote and I'm going to take 15 people with me."? What different things could happen for different groups - I mean, people who vote at particular times of day because of work, family or health issues. Could you also have a kind of ElectionReminder.com a bit like BirthdayAlarm - something that sends you a tweet/e-mail/SMS to encourage you to make time for it or to apply for a postal/proxy vote if you know you're not going to be around.
Anyway, I'm not the first to think about this. Who else is working on it? How can we help?
I walked very little yesterday as I started feeling some pain in my shoulder and upper back on Sunday night which just got worse through the night and meant I didn't feel up to much at all. Plus it was pouring with rain. It's subsided a bit today. I walked this morning, but couldn't turn my neck without difficulty, especially to the right, so every time I crossed the road I had to turn my whole upper torso...
It's felt a lot better since I got home.
It seems to be centred around an old injury. I dislocated my right shoulder about nineteen years ago in a stage-fighting class. I hadn't been paying attention when we were being taught how to roll out of a fall and then I was grabbed, thrown over the top of someone and instead of pulling my arm in and rolling on my shoulder, I put my arm out to stop the fall and it took the brunt of my weight and went the wrong way. I went to A&E and got it put back OK but it's always been weak. And on occasions when I've gotten angry and in a strop, it's almost popped out again. Nothing like that this time though, it just feels like my body's going "Oh, now you've remembered I'm here, there's this thing you've not been dealing with for twenty years."
I'd seen something that looked interesting this week and signed up for it. I knew at the time that it was the weekend after my daughter's birthday and that I'd likely have lots of things on and that it was on the other side of town, where I've practically vowed not to go, but when I got up this morning, it still seemed like a good idea.
However, I hadn't had much of a walk yesterday, so I thought I'd give myself an hour and a half on the road on the way, maybe walk as far as Victoria and then get the tube.
Man, I'm an idiot! Really. What was I thinking? Not the walk, but the thing. After 50 minutes of walking, I knew that it was ridiculous to be giving my weekend to other people instead of enjoying it myself. I've got a million things in my head that I'd rather be doing. So I stopped, got a coffee and got straight about what I was really going to do this (bank holiday!) weekend.
And now I'm going to walk home.
It's taken up a lot of thought and time and it's really personal and it's close to me in ways that I don't even understand. That's why it's important to me to keep going. I don't care if I don't understand, but I need to experience, to process, to put down or put away in little boxes, to leave behind, having learned.
The seed for me getting involved in this work was the TIDA 1935 film "Men Who Work" which we saw by accident when looking at the British Council Collection.
If you look at that film - it shows a day in the life of the factory, including the counting of the cash for the wage packets - it tells the rest of the world how British craftsmanship is the key to the success of the company.
If you then look for clips about Longbridge in the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) there are a few promotional items - "the 1 millionth Mini!"... "the 2 millionth Mini!" and then local news clips about layoffs and strikes with lots of vox pops about whether they agree with this or that.
This means that there's only one story being told again - the success or failure of the company, with failure being laid at the unions' door.
There's nothing about what it's really like to work there, the humour, the social life, the everyday experience of anyone who worked there or the people who lived nearby and didn't work there.
I'm hoping to find moving picture material that starts to tell that part of the story.
I'm drawn to this in the work that I'm proposing about the Longbridge site. The mainstream narrative about the plant is that it was an important part of Britain's economic success until the late 1960s when strikes and industrial disputes created by greedy, communist union officials dragged the company down. The day was saved across British industry by the Thatcher government's union reforms but it was too late for the car industry which was just too broken to be worth fixing.
Now if you think about it, that's obviously not the only story that could be told. It's definitely told from the point of view of a mass media that generally sides with company owners, shareholders and government. The alternative view, that the Tory government was hell-bent on destroying the labour movement, no matter what the cost is just another telling of the same story - it still pits men against management, Labour against the Tories - it uses the metaphor of battle and one side won and they get to write history. But there was surely more to it than that.
The story of ordinary working people is hardly ever told by them. It gets appropriated and re-presented by others for their own purposes. I don't want to do that, I want to encourage people to say what they've always thought anyway, but didn't have a framework to have it be heard.
Why is this important for the future of the site? Well, it's about counteracting the forces of monoculture. If you allow for there to only be one story that gets told about the past, you continue the pattern and it's more likely that only one story about the future is acceptable too. One viewpoint, the consensus view that originates from those with power and gets handed down and repeated as truth.
With blogging, we're getting used to the idea that "there's a bit more to it than that". We can present all the stories and then triangulate our position from them. We can't ever stop people making stuff up in order to either make themselves look good or else to confirm their prejudices but we can say "that's not the only way to tell this story"
I come from what I considered to be a fairly ordinary South Birmingham family. All the people I knew were born in the twentieth century and they represent a cross-section of British society in that time. At least a cross-section of the "ordinary people". We have no aristocrats, although some of us have aspirations...
The bulk of the people I call my family are Davenports although I'm a Davis. My father had one brother, who died five years ago. It appears that he did father some children but it was while he was travelling the world and he never introduced us. Both my grandfathers died in 1990, in their eighties. My father's mother died at Christmas 1991 - she saw me married, she got to meet my son. My mother's mother died in February 2009, aged 97. My mother has four brothers and two sisters and between them there have produced 19 members of my generation (so-called "legitimately", I think there are two others born out of wedlock in the sixties and given away for adoption).