My earliest memory is really an image in my head. It could only have been seen by me – the mental equivalent of a point-of-view shot in a film. I see the world through some kind of netting. Two faces appear and the netting is pulled aside. The faces of two young girls appear, one blonde, the other brunette. That’s it – just a brief flashback, but I am convinced I have not made it up or been told about it. What is odd is that I must have been no more than two years old.
I think I once mentioned this to my mother, who probably thought it was just another of my silly fantasies, but when I later learned about the circumstances of my infancy, I became convinced that the faces belonged to my cousins Pamela and Barbara. My Auntie Joan, the only person whom I have trusted to tell the truth about those difficult times, confirmed this theory years later.
Almost two years ago I told the story of my connection to father and son engineering ancestors John and Sir John Dewrance, as I understood it at the time, including references to John Dewrance having built George Stephenson’s Rocket. Quite recently I have been assured by a learned reader that this was unlikely and that the Rocket was built by Robert Stephenson. Since my original post was primarily about the family connection, only mentioning the Rocket in passing, and in the interests of accuracy, I have updated it accordingly. I do hope this meets the concerns of anyone more interested in railway historical minutiae than in a family yarn, of interest to anyone sharing the family name.
Unlike many in my age group, I admit I have an aversion to family research, but all my life I have been asked where my (allegedly) unusual surname comes from. It has become more and more difficult to avoid some degree of family tree climbing, even if only to satisfy the curiosity of others.
There are two more compelling reasons.
One is an odd memory, with a subsequent explanation. I recall being with my mother, shopping in Wembley High Road, and being accosted by an old man who apparently recognised my mum. I think he may have called out her name (Alice). I would probably not have remembered the incident at all had it not been for my mother’s extreme reaction, as she grabbed me and ran away from him. I think she told me that he was some kind of tramp. Continue reading →