I don’t know the song, but one of my friends used to sing along to her doorbell (before they changed the sound to the barking dog noise).
The world is positively miniscule. Kevin has discovered that his great great great great grandmother was a Jump, which would be worrying if she was a Lancashire Jump, but the connection with the West Derby Jumps is so ancient as to scarcely be relevant (in case anyone thought that 200 years didn’t already put the relationship firmly in the irrelevant category). Still, it’s an unusual name, and a protestant name at that, so we were a little surprised.
The size of the world has also been brought into question by the fact that my aforementioned doorbell-accompanying friend today met my first cousin once removed on my father’s side, or, as we usually call him, Our Phil*. Phil is an area something or other (they used to be called Superintendants, but some time after I drifted out of the denomination into the murky world of the housechurch movement, and churches that were all too often called “Something or Other Christian Fellowship”, they restructured, and I’ve no idea what he does. The evidence would suggest that he still uses Superintendent as a point of reference to counteract the blank looks.) in the Baptist Union, which means that he turns up at Baptist Churches as guest preacher, authority figure, shoulder to cry on, etc etc, and to celebrate high days and holidays. Our local Baptist church is celebrating such a high-day/holiday at the moment (a centenary), and so there was a comparing of notes between my astute friend, who guessed that there must be some relationship between us, and my distant cousin.
On one level, I’m quite gratified – much depends on tone of voice and levels of irony, but since I’m told he said, “Oh yes, Our Ruth* – the clever one,” I’m taking it as a compliment. Two tiny degrees, that’s all, nothing to brag about, but thank you.
On another, these things always unnerve me a little. I don’t have huge secrets to protect, when my different worlds collide – plenty of people do, I’m sure – but it just seems very odd, that Tess spent some minutes, this morning, talking to a member of my family, who actually knows me hardly at all, and rarely sees me outside of Christmas. There’s always Christmas, and in a funny way, most of the family rather value the fact that we don’t lose touch all together, because we always go to my Grandma’s at Christmas. But in another, it’s a bit farcical, because we know so little about each other, the need to hold onto that connection is… odd.
An example: before he went to Bible college, Phil worked at Camel Lairds. I’ve always known this, but I only learned today that he did electrical type stuff there – for all I knew he could have been an accountant, or a spot welder. I think I had an idea he wore a suit, so maybe not a spot welder. Similarly, our Will does something in computers – I don’t know what, or for whom, or at what level. Our Tim works for BT, and always has, but I don’t know what he does. And all they know about me is that she’s the clever one – went to University, you know.
I value my family pretty highly. Maybe I ought to speak to some of them.
* It is not unique to Liverpool families, but it is a particularly defining feature of them, that all family members, however distant or infrequently seen, are referred to as “ours” at all times. I mean, Aunty Ermintrude or Uncle Joshua* would be addressed as such, but anyone who could be described as a sibling or a cousin of any description, as in this case, would always be described in such terms of ownership. If I just said “Phil”, family members would say, “Phil Who?”, and only give me the flicker of recognition when I gave up and replied, “You know – Our Phil.” He, I have not the faintest shadow of a doubt, refers to me as “Our Ruth,” on such rare occasions as he refers to me at all. And since I’m not a big name in the Baptist Union, that’s probably less often than the other way around.
* I don’t have an Aunty Ermintrude, or an Uncle Joshua. They were merely examples.