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18 Jun 2016

If you wannabe my cousin

...you've got to know my Grandad.

The baby of the family, with cousins many years older, my Grandpa's infancy was enfolded with lots of skirts.  My Grandpa positioned himself as knowing very little about his family.  He even demonstrated this by writing two and a half sides of A4 of social history, with a couple of snippets about basic relatives, claiming that was all the knowledge he had.  This account mentions grandparents, one aunt, one uncle and his own parents.  Full stop.

However, in conversation there was his dad's cousins, May and Tom.  Then there was aunty Taylor, and there might have been a Rodda, and what about Tom Davies, and Tom Taylor, and Tom's daughter or niece who had the farm at Gorseinon.  All from growing up in 1920s Morriston, south Wales.

That wasn't even the half of it.  Photos clearly showed there was a Great Aunt Maggie, with flashing black eyes, who was grandma of two little girls.  There was Cyril the Methodist minister, a Lily who sent blankets during the war, and 20 years later a recollection about the youngest Taylor boy alongside a vignette from the time of the mid-Victorian goldrush.

Grandpa may have been too young to have everyone on a card index, but for an analytical man he was in fact the perfect vector of that wonderful virus - oral history.  His second cousin Cyril was in touch, it emerged, with their third cousin Ben, who I was able to phone way back in 1994.  Which was two years before Wannabe: that's practically pre-historic.

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