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Posts Tagged ‘History’

Whatever happens I shall never be anything but glad that I did get my chance to go to the War – it robbed me of my good prospects in life, but I am still alive : where so many gave up their lives in all the splendid promise of their youth.


And it might be that in the after time, by reason of my thus having simply done my duty (and God knows that it was also my pleasure!) some one who loves me may say, in charity, that ‘His life had some smatch of honour in it’
.”

So ‘Jottings from my Autobigraphy’ ends. I believe I have come as near to loving someone I’ve never met as may be possible, and now it is “the after time”, and I say – in truth, not in charity – that my grandfather’s life had an abundance of honour in it, and I give thanks for him with all my heart.

*

Can’t help wondering what on earth ‘smatch’ means. It has to be a typo, surely – but no, apparently it’s simply another word for ‘smack’!
There has been a long delay since I was last able to actually work on the essays, but during that time I was aware of a strange mixture of feelings: I’d nearly finished reading them and was keen to complete the circle, but I didn’t want to get to that apparently final point. I was also getting really frustrated that there has been no opportunity recently to get on with it!
Glimpsing my grandfather’s “richly stored and variegated rag-bag” of a mind through his essays has been a hugely rewarding and at times deeply moving experience which I started very reluctantly – and rather erratically – when I brought home several carrier bags crammed with filthy, dusty old papers, sometime in 2010, I think. There are still a few papers to sort, but I believe all the complete essays are now read, scanned, logged, labelled and filed in date order.

So now it is done.

The Essays

The Essays in their serried ranks. Behind are 4 boxes – and many photos to sort!

Or is it? I need to start sorting the photos! But that’s not the last of the essays – in fact, I now feel as though I’m starting a different phase. I shall be re-reading some of them, researching further, and continuing the blog. I wonder where the search will this lead me now?  To Wikipedia  –  and beyond!

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At the beginning of the previous century the ‘hitherto secret forces of the Universe’ were tamed, sufficiently to give rise to radio broadcasting, and about a hundred years ago the masses began to listen reverentially to the words of the few. As grandfather observed in an essay:extract from essay

He wrote these lines in 1928 – oblivious to just how ‘common-place a thing in our lives’ broadcasting would become, and radio’s now only a tiny part of it.
The essay is ‘On Public Speaking’ and (in addition to helpful suggestions for success, such as ‘Stand up, speak up, shut up’!) is full of observations about speakers such as Mr Gladstone, Lord Rosebery, Lord Balfour, Lord Charles Beresford, Lord Birkenhead, Lord Curzon; Lloyd George; Stanley Baldwin; Fridjiof Nansen (Norwegian explorer and Nobel Prize winner), and actors including Sir Charles Wyndham, Edward Compton, Sir Henry Irving, and a sweet reference to a speech by Anna Pavlova. He was there. He saw all these people. They were real? But surely they’re just history book characters! I remember getting a similar shock once years ago, when I saw footage on TV of George Bernard Shaw – someone who seemed buried in the mists of time, and there he was on the screen – moving!
The thing I’m finding so enriching about reading grandfather’s essays (three more scanned today – getting there!) is the context – what was happening in the world during the time he was writing.
I’m also amazed at how emotional it can be – I got a bit teary over a rusty paper clip on the essay, which clearly hadn’t been removed since it clipped the papers together 85 years ago. Then a full-blown weep ensued when I read another essay in which his love of his birthplace just shines though – even his fellow SES critics felt it:

Qoute from A Corner of England crit

I never knew any of my grandparents, so it’s very special to have these documents – although it’s an odd feeling, getting to know a relative in this way. Typically, at the end of the essay – he takes a wry pleasure in a typo…

Quote from On Public Speaking - typo

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