Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

Funny how the mind works

I woke up at around 4.15 a.m. this morning. I'm not sure why, though I thought I could hear a bit of banging out at the front. It sounded like the waste bin that's on the pavement in front of our neighbour's house being emptied. It seemed really early for them to be doing that, but there are road works in the town centre at the moment, so perhaps they were emptying the bins before the workmen started?

Anyway, it doesn't really matter whether I woke naturally or whether it was a faint noise that disturbed me, but I woke up knowing exactly how to tackle the family history project. And bizarrely I think the reason I had my moment of insight was due to watching the police drama Vera last night.

I'd started the family history research with great enthusiasm, but I got distracted by politics last year, not to mention trying to get serious about my YouTube channel, but the main reason the research had stalled was because it felt like a large and formless and never-ending project. Some people seem to enjoy family history research as a way of life. They carry on tracking their ancestors back as far as possible and then go sideways to find ever more distant cousins all over the world and get in touch with them. That is not what I wanted. I wanted to put our family into context, learn a little about where we came from and finish the work my Dad started. But I wanted a finite project I could say was complete.

And then I woke up this morning with the insight that I need to a) split the writing up into two separate books, my side of the family and G's and b) start with the grandparents.

Because my ancestors were poor and either working class city dwellers or rural farm labourers, there's not much to find once you go beyond grandparents. Great-grandparents will get mentioned in relation to the grandparents' childhood, and that's about as far back as I can sensibly go. If I do find out anything interesting about generations prior to great-grandparents, I can add them in at the end as "Extra information".

And so I have the shape of the project, which is what I need before I can start doing anything useful. I'm a visual thinker and don't do linear thought very well, so I need a sense of a project before I can start breaking it down into a sequence.

Oh, and why did Vera trigger this insight? Yesterday's murder victim was the major shareholder in a greyhound racing track, which reminded me that my grandfather, the one I never knew because he died when I was a tiny baby, was also a shareholder in a greyhound track and in fact kept a couple of greyhounds. Somehow my sleeping brain worked out that this was my best starting point because that's where I have personal memories as well as information from the censuses and records of births, marriages and deaths. So now I know where to start, the first step is to work out how to get the information I've already discovered out of Ancestry and into a form where I can access it offline. Something to work on next week.

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