Thursday, 22 July 2010

Strange things you find, some of them in your own genes.

By pure accident, while shifting some things around in my house the other day I found my grandfather’s eulogy. I’m not actually sure who wrote it, as I missed the funeral, but I was mildly intrigued, so broke off from packing books into boxes and sat down with a glass of chianti and had a read (it was actually a tumbler thus drinking wine in the middle of the day was acceptable).

I was interested to find this little excerpt:

Vaughan (my Grandfather) loved words. He loved talking, he loved listening, he loved ideas. He loved the beauty and power of the English language – he loved using it and hearing it well used. He could always find the right words to convey a thought, a hope or an emotion. His original imagery and forceful delivery delighted many audiences. He once defined his job as “Passing on visions wrapped up in words”

It was startling to me as I not so long ago found this in my own father’s first draft of his autobiography (A true Southam tradition):

I’ve also got an admission to make; I’ve recently fallen in love again. Not with some dazzling young female but with the English language. Being dyslexic made my early relationship with the English language a difficult one, but no more. I love it. It’s history, it’s staggering richness, the wide choice of words, its subtleness, its ability to continuously evolve, and the wonderful words themselves.

I love and adore what I call ‘big words’. Whenever I come across a new one I write it down and look up it’s meaning, like yesterday it was cunctation, meaning procrastination, and then try in some way to use it.

And then there is me, and I seem somehow to have inherited this love of language, I can see myself in both of these glimpses of the love of language that my father and his father both clearly harbored.

It wouldn’t seem so interesting to me had my grandfather, or my father been authors, or had this love ever been vocalized, but it hasn’t, ever. We all just seem to have stumbled across this same passion, it makes me wonder, if a love for language and communication could be part of your make up? Or, if these things are incidental, products of similar environments or simply a learned upbringing and urge to communicate?

Whatever the case if this has been passed down, what on earth happened to the hard-work gene? By the looks of the rest of this eulogy, that was fairly important to one Vaughan Southam, I’m not so sure that will appear in mine, nor dads for that matter.

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