Thursday, 17 October 2013

A shallow piece of dignity

My paternal grandparents were both born in working class Bedminster in the 1905. Generations of the Mendip Rouleurs came from working class and maritime occupations in and around Bristol, and I won't bore you with it all.

My grandmother worked in the Wills cigarette factory, while my grandfather patrolled the perimeter as what was then called a night-watchman. Nowadays it would be "security" or something else more complicated.

They met in their, and the, early twenties, got married, and moved to Swindon in 1929 when Wills opened a new factory there. My Uncle was born in 1930 and my Dad five years later. The convenience of being born in 1905 meant Grandpa missed the war, and they settled into a solid life of work, sport and cigarette-smoking. The latter ably supported by their employer who doled out the free fags.

A pretty unremarkable lineage that I'm particularly attached to, along with my Huguenot antecedents on my mother's side, and some stone masons and glove makers from in and around Yeovil. If they made one of those family history programmes about us, everyone would be yawning after 10 minutes, because nothing particularly remarkable ever happened to any of us.

But I was listening to the line in "Design for Life" today. Not the ones about bottles although that's pretty apposite too, or scars (more me than him) but the one about these temples of working class learning.

My Dad was told that University was not for the likes of him. By his own parents. But he didn't listen. And though he had to go and get a job at 16, he enrolled in evening classes, and got himself some qualifications. And a better job. And another one. And eventually he ended up with recognition from the chief of the establishment.

Not bad, considering from where he came.

So if you, or I, are sitting around amusing yourself to death, and wondering where to go, take it as a sign. Don't be told your own limitations, get off your arse and do something. It doesn't matter what, just as long as it's something your kid might one day blog about. If they still have blogs in 30 years time that is.

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