Yesterday’s festive disaster was the failure of the Christmas tree lights and yes I do always check them before I put them away. They worked perfectly in January. How can thing ‘unwork’ whilst lying calmly in box? At a conservative estimate these lights are 35 years old. The price on the box is in ‘new’ money so they must be post 1971 but probably not by much. Scarily, this means they have been on my Christmas tree for more than half my lifetime. I guess this means they don’t owe me anything. Having laboriously checked each of the 40 bulbs, the wiring and the fuse, I concluded that there must be a break in the wire somewhere and conceded defeat. I am now awaiting the arrival of my personal shopper who has been given detailed instructions and I hope will have purchased the ‘right sort of lights’. As the lights have to be on the tree before further decorating can commence, the ornaments remain strewn across the living room floor awaiting their month of glory.
My DNA kit is still somewhere mid Altlantic. I am eagerly checking the company’s website, awaiting its move from ‘Pending Shipment to the lab’ to ‘Pending Lab Results’. In the meantime, I am still re-visiting the paper trail to identify my meagre collection of potential third cousins. My great great grandparents John and Elizabeth Hogg née Pearson’s descendants are noted for their quality rather than quantity. Well certainly they failed on the quantity front so I made up the quality bit! They had four children. One died unmarried and I am the only descendant of another. One of the others provided me with five third cousins, who fortunately have a very unusual double-barrelled surname, so I was able to make contact with one of them. The final daughter had one son. No help from an unusual surname here. I have tracked down three people in my father’s generation who potentially could have produced children to become my third cousins. So, at a guess, between 5 and 15 third cousins on this branch.
It would be strange if my advent historical novelists’ list did not contain several who have a genealogist as their protagonist. You might argue that these are not precisely historical novels and you would be right, as they are largely set in the present. They are however so bound up with the past that I am counting them – my advent ‘calendar’ my rules. These tend to combine an historical slant with crime, another of my favourite genres, so for me it is a two for the price of one scenario. The first for me to ‘unwrap’ is Nathan Dylan Goodwin. These feature the casebook of forensic genealogist Moreton Farrier. I cringe a little at the phrase ‘forensic genealogist’, as to me forensic genealogy is just ‘proper’ genealogy but we won’t go there now and it doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the books. The first book, Hiding the Past, has an unexpected twist in its tale as Moreton strives to uncover a family secret, with the aid of his police officer girlfriend. The Lost Ancestor slips between the present day investigations and Edwardian Britain, in a case that proves hazardous for Farrier. The third in the series The American Ground is based on a real incident and reflects Goodwin’s other writing, which focuses on the local history of his home town of Hastings. The Battle of Britain forms the background to The Spyglass File,, which has only recently been released and is still on my ’to be read’ pile. A continuing thread throughout the books is Farrier’s search for his own biological family and this, as well as the fast paced writing, makes me eagerly wait the next installment. These are undemanding holiday reads, which is why I still haven’t got to the latest one. That is not meant to be a derogatory comment, they are well researched and the genealogical methodology is accurate and interesting. Once you start one of Goodwin’s books you can’t wait to turn the next page, so not to be begun unless you have time to get to the end, which you will probably want to do in one sitting. A great one for family historians everywhere.