Medal Melting

My sword has tasted blood
for causes of variable worth.
My blood has tasted battle.

My flesh has tasted metal
for men of dubious credentials.
My mettle has been tested.

I am only the latest in a long line of recruits
in ragged step with our forebears,
and my blood seethes with their fury.

Their battles rage within me.
The knowledge of their wars
shames me.

My blood mocks me for a mercenary,
for who else have I served
if not the thieves of my freedom?

My marrow is sick of my service.
I bear my aging wounds resignedly,
but I will wear their coin no more.

To write a memoir?

Photo by David Clode

Has anyone here written a memoir? Writing one now, perhaps?

Two or three times this year I’ve found myself entertaining the notion. Just to cover my childhood and teens, really, up to when I joined the navy.

They were grim years. Dark. I suffered abuse.

What I’m wondering is, why would I want to write a memoir?

I don’t need to fix anything. I’ve done that, actually. I’m 61 and I’m okay. Long ago, I forgave the people who hurt me. I don’t need to come to terms with anything, or heal anything. It’s healed. So that’s not a reason to write it all out.

Nor do I need to see those years from the perspective of my abusers. Which might be a factor for some people who write a memoir, but it isn’t for me. I’m satisfied that I’ve covered that too.

I don’t believe it would make me any money. Not that money is a driver in my life. There are eleven or twelve of my novels out there in the world and, although my loyal readers enjoy them, experience tells me not to expect anything I write to buy me a yacht. So it isn’t money.

I’m not of the opinion that a memoir of mine would add to the sum of human wisdom. Parts of it might possibly help a youngster or two who are going through what I went through… but frankly I don’t foresee it being popular enough to get into their hands.

And I wouldn’t bother writing it just for myself, because I don’t do that, or need to do that, or even want to do that.

So I don’t know why the thought keeps returning. Why I’m attracted to the idea of the project.

Any ideas, friends?

A research development in my family tree

Photo by Mike WilsonI’ve had a satisfying development in my genealogical stuff.

For a good while, we’ve known quite a lot about the dominant two lines in my family tree, the people who produced my mother. One half has lived in Wallasey, on the Wirral, across the River Mersey from Liverpool, for centuries. They have four-hundred-year-old headstones in the churchyard. The other half came from Ireland, where many of them were seamen of various types, until they migrated to Liverpool and mostly continued their association with the sea.

The genealogical work one of our daughters and I have been doing recently has been to find my father’s line. He was orphaned before he married my mother, and he died young, so his family history has been quite a mystery. All we knew was that they came from Hull, a fishing town on England’s east coast.

Earlier this year we traced half of the Hull line to 18th century Chelsea, where they were house painters, and the other half to Carlisle, in Cumbria, NW England, where they all worked in the cotton industry. Some evocative job names in the censuses.

Then, in the mid-1860s, they (the working generation) left their aged ones in Carlisle and moved to Bradford for a generation, and then the next generation moved on farther east to settle in Hull, where they presumably used transferrable skills to become rope makers, etc. rather than cotton spinners, etc. Plus some fishermen, obvs. And a blacksmith.

Anyway, I’ve been wondering what triggered that first migration, and today I found it. The cotton famine of 1861-6. I vaguely remember the name of it, from Industrial Revolution history lessons at school, probably, but none of the details. So this morning I read up on it.

When the cotton industry people of NW England, mill owners and workers, declared their support for slavery abolitionists in the southern states of America, cotton growers in those states responded by placing an embargo. Other regions, mainly Yorkshire, imported cotton from India as well as America, but in difficult times the American embargo proved to be the final straw that killed the industry in NW England. No cotton, no industry.

I can now visualise my people walking away from their homes and everything they knew in Carlisle to find work in Bradford, Yorkshire, when the mills in their towns died. Sad. But a definite answer to my question.

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