The phone rang. There was an email and a text. They were all from the same woman. She wanted me to get in touch, wanted to meet up, to become part of my life - to see, to feel connected. No, this was not some female nutter, rather a long- lost relative. Put another way, a distant cousin I had never met, who now, having surfaced, wanted to unearth and agitate my past.
Florence is into genealogy. Not in a small way either. She is an amateur but I bet she knows every clergyman in England, every graveyard and every register in the land. She must have spent a fortune on the relevant internet sites that require a fiver, a tenner or more, to investigate family trees.
Now, having allowed myself to be drawn into her projects, my phone never stops. At first, I would hide it under a tea-cozy, or switch off the ringing tone. But late into the night I would hear it ring in my head. Florence!
I should, I suppose, have told her to clear off, to go and bother another long lost relative. And I would have done, in a polite way of course, but for one thing. Florence is nice. Not nicey nice, but good, open-hearted and generous nice. I like her. And how do you tell someone you like to clear off?
You have to admire her hell bent determination – a resolve to unearth long dead, long forgotten relatives by way of charts and trees. There was a distant Great Uncle Percy, who had twelve siblings. There was my great grandfather’s brother Alban, who opened an orphanage; and way back in the eighteenth century, a swashbuckling pirate who was hanged for mutiny. There were the illegitimate and the married, the good and the not so good; there were the poor and the rich, the long and the short-lived. All recorded, all set down, and all brought to light, to my attention, by Florence.
So what if she did wear me down, drink my gin and eat half the contents of the fridge. Didn’t she deserve to? Without her, would I have bothered with ancestry and family trees? Of course not. I had shut the door on my past, and not because I had anything to hide, but simply because I was too lazy to care. Oh yes! My arm chair and Coronation Street had beckoned nightly.
Florence has changed all that. I could go as far as to say that Florence has changed my life. I go all over the place now - dig up records, visit museums, pubs, old houses, streets and churches. My arches have dropped with so much walking. But I sleep like a log. I’m as thin as a rake, but I eat like a horse.
Florence continues to drain me. I am worn out from keeping up with her – the charts, the chats, the brain work, the burning of the midnight oil. Well? So what!
GUYS AND GHOSTS - A fun novel about two lost ghosts and their search to be reunited.
Find in paperback, ebook and kindle under the category of fiction.
TEA AT THE OPALACO and other Short Stories
An ideal gift for friends and family.
Jane's website for plays, books, paintings: http://playsbyjanelockyerwillis.co.uk/