Sunday, 2 February 2014

Continuity

In yesterday's post I received a packet from my niece.   It contained a book called 'Friendship was not rationed', written by an eighty-year-old who lived in the village in Lincolnshire where I lived until I was in my early twenties.   It is not well written - just a simple book about life in the village during our childhood, mainly recalling individuals, where they lived and such like.

I rather enjoyed the hour it took to read it; most of the people mentioned had been long-forgotten.   The village has now become a dormitory town next to Lincoln itself and in the form it was when we were kids it no longer exists.

Also in the packet were two little poetry books - Omar Khayyam in a tiny leather-bound edition which I had bought for her father (my brother in law) in 1945 and inscribed in my hand writing inside the front cover and a tiny book of Tennyson (Lincolnshire's poet) which my niece had bought for my father around the same date.

I could not bear to have been parted from either of them and although I already have copies of both I shall treasure them unless my son wishes to have them.

I e mailed her to ask how she could near to be parted from these things and she said she was culling her book shelves and found she had absolutely 'no sense of continuity' so could easily get rid of them.

This set me thinking.   Is continuity important?   Maybe not these days.   When I was a child I honestly don't remember a single divorced couple in our village.   There were two children to my knowledge born to unmarried mothers (amid a great scandal) and I remember asking my mother if you could have a baby when you were not married - her answer was along the lines of Thora Hird in Last of the Summer Wine - Drink your Coffee!   And yes, I do know the old adage that it is a wise child that knows its own father.

Please do not misunderstand me (as my son is wont to do) - I am not in any way against divorce - in my young days I am sure many couples stayed together because separating was not an option financially - children brought up in unhappy homes often suffered greatly - and these days, thank goodness, things are much better for all concerned.

But a friend told me that her grandson seemed to be the only child in his class who had the same Mum and Dad he was born with and I just wonder if this makes continuity so unimportant these days.   If you have half brothers and sisters and children living in the household who are in no way related, does it make keeping track of one's ancestors more difficult, or less interesting?

I would have said that maybe it was an age thing, except in the case of my niece she is seventy years old and comes from a very stable background.

And to go back briefly to the book about my home village - the author says how the village rector 'kept the village together' - I must say that although I was brought up a Methodist, I do remember the rector and his influence.   I was reading Ronald Blythe this morning and he was writing about the vicar and poet George Herbert, vicar of his parish for only three years before he died of consumption in 1633.

His view of the duties of the vicar was that he should know a bit about farming, doctoring, herbs, literature, music, art and about human behaviour and nature.  He saw his job as far more than preaching on a Sunday.   He saw it as going round his parish and talking to everyone, 'trying to bring something higher to their lives' than their everyday worries.   He speaks of 'creeping into even the poorest cottage even though it smell never so loathsome' , listening, lending a hand and generally helping to sort out problems.   I am sure he had no problems with continuity - dying so young he must have been  certain that he was part of a line that went down through the ages.

I remember him well - his visits to us usually coincided with afternoon tea time.   My mother was a good cook and I am pretty sure he knew it!

15 comments:

thelma said...

George Herbert led me on a pretty chase link ;) I thought he lived at Tretowers in Wales but no it was Henry Vaughan his friend whose family lived at this old house.
These old books of past lives speak of a time when travel was impossible, you could live and die in your village, London as far away as the moon...

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

To me it is sad to see the lack of continuity that is so prevalent these days - now I sound like an old codger. But a strong family down through the years has got to help those in the family - and coming from a greatly dysfunctional family as a child, I see even more the importance of making a good family that can stay together.

Robin Mac said...

I wonder if the fact that we can travel so far so quickly and easily has contributed to the lack of continuity? History no longer seems to very important to young people, and knowing your family's roots is part of that. I think it is a sad indictment of the electronic age, but I hope I am wrong.

mumasu said...

Although, if your dad was a ne'er do well that reflected badly down the generations too!

Pondside said...

We've lost a lot in the last 60 or 70 years. We've lost what you call a sense of continuity and we've lost what some call corporate memory. We are so afraid of 'strangers' and of the unknown in cyber space and so busy chasing all the extras that now pass as important elements of a good life that we ignore our neighbours and then wonder how some terrible thing could happen right under our noses.

Cloudia said...

You take us richly to a time and place that echos with truly long history and tradition.

Thanks for sharing. It just so happens that a "small leather bound
Rubaiyat" reminded me of an iconic relic from my distant adolescence (always a welcome, then chilling encounter - yeah, thanks)

For the record, I am an American preferring this visit to watching the super bowl.


ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

=^..^= <3

John Gray said...

Pat can we meet before you or I die?

jinxxxygirl said...

Yes i think continuity is very important and yes i think we are losing it. I know my children could care less about history , family history or otherwise. I think it is very sad. Even her own history she is not interested in.... Yet i'am the one who keeps the little knit hat they put on her head when she was first born....i keep the school papers... and reportcards... and pictures and awards and ribbons and so on...... and tell myself...one day...she will want them... one day she'll be glad i kept them... but she is 27 now... will one day come? Soon i will have to realize they are only for me.... Hugs! deb

Cro Magnon said...

When my youngest son was at Junior School, he and his friend Serge were the only two boys in his class who had 'TWO PARENTS'. I'd better not say any more!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Yes Jinxxxy Girl, they will be interested when they get older. My girls are both in their forties now and love to talk about when they were little. They will delight in seeing the things you have saved (good for you) and showing them to THEIR children - who won't be interested - YET !
Gill

Elizabeth Wix said...

This is a difficult one - things do change much more rapidly now - but there is an avid interest in the past now. Ancestry.com is one of the top sites.
Another snow storm here!

Crafty Green Poet said...

In terms of continuity, I think it depends on the situation. A friend of mine recently was clearing out her Mum's house and gave me a book of poetry that I gave to my Mum - turns out she had read it at school and was delighted with the gift. Whereas otherwise it would have just sat unloved on my friend's book case.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

In our family we've been blessed with a lot of continuity and I treasure it. My grandsons go to the same school my children did, and I babysit on Tuesday mornings so that my daughter can volunteer in the same school library that I did. Still, the school is immensely larger than it was 30 years ago. I think continuity, which in many places may be diminished, is valuable and can offer a lot of support to people.

Dartford Warbler said...


My sons both seem interested in their late grandfathers and are keen to know about their lives, but the quieter lives of the women in a family are often lost to memory. I hope that my granddaughters will want to know more about the women who came before them. A good reason to treasure all the old photographs and letters that still remain.

The Weaver of Grass said...

We mostly seem to be in agreement that we should do our best to keep some family history and memories alive. Thanks for joining in - it is always interesting to read all the comments together - we could all be in the same room chatting about it!