When I was growing up I was somewhat disappointed in my relatives. Not only were they few in number, they also had little interest in me and would not bother with gifts or cards on birthdays or Christmas. I was an immensely materialistic child who coveted much but received almost nothing that had not previously belonged to my sister. I am not joking when I say I was 16 before I owned a coat that had not formerly belonged to a member of my family and was not a Barbour.

When I had grown up a bit more I realised that these years of neglect from my relatives could now flow both ways and I could cheerfully neglect them back without any associated feelings of guilt. Having said that I am happy to give them dibs on my kidneys if needed. I am not entirely heartless.

It is a bit of a shame really because my family has something of a track record for being slightly demented in improbable ways, a fine tradition we have been maintaining for the last 500 years. He Who Knows Everything Except Where He Left The Key To The Well House is very much into the genealogy and has managed, in association with the other distant relatives, to compile a family tree. Being a certain type of people, they have also found many documents pertaining to relatives long dead.
This, in particular, has been a great source of comfort to me. Our name is an uncommon one and not pronounced the way most people think it looks. Unfortunately when I correct the pronunciation to somebody filling out a form, they feel the need to amend the spelling and I will have to spend ten minutes explaining why they don’t need to do that. Because of this, documents arrive for me with any one of four common spellings on them. I have been pleased to find that even centuries ago people were doing this to us and there are many documents which will use all four on the space of a single piece of paper.

This morning though, HWKEEWHLTKTTWH found something wonderful regarding a cousin named Joseph. From the diary of his local vicar and dating from around 1850:

1st May: The school children all came with their garlands, a May pole and a Jack of the Green, and sung a May day song and danced round the maypole – though it rained at the time.
2nd May: I went and visited and prayed with poor old Widow Castle who was seized with giddiness and fell down and has never been out of her bed since. I only heard of her illness this morning. She is 83 years old and evidently about to depart out of this life.
5th May: A sharp frost.
15th May: Heard that poor young Joseph M_ had cut his throat in bed about 5 o’clock this morning, but not effectually let us hope as he is still alive. No reason at present given for the sudden and rash act, his health had not been good for some time past.
16th May: Sunday: After morning service I had an interview with poor young M_ of some duration; he was under the painful impression that he had sinned against the Holy Ghost and so cannot be forgiven. I did my best to divest him of the impression and to console and cheer him.
24th May: Called and saw poor young Jos. M_ again and had some more serious conversation with him – about his recent narrow escape from Death.
30th May: I visited Widow Castle again and read prayers by her – and also young Jos. M_ and did the same. He was much better, to all appearances quite himself again.