A letter from Australasia

I sometimes wonder what Wordsworth would have said had he been able to publish a blog.  Would we have had descriptions of the daffodils, instead of the poem, or would we have had both?  I ask this question because to my astonishment, my blog posts appear to have been read all over the world, and that is both uplifting and daunting at the same time!

But I was unprepared for people who might be distant relatives getting in touch from New Zealand, and that reminded me of a story of my father’s about one of his uncles on his mother’s side, therefore a McCall, emigrating to New Zealand in the 19th century and sending home the kind of ship letter as opposed to air letter that we have in the collection, describing his booming sheep station and the wonders of natural life around him.  Sadly, in the early 1920s, a lawyer’s letter informed the family that he was deceased and that his worldly goods were to be auctioned and the money divided between his relatives in the old country.  With his tongue in his cheek, my father described the discussions of the cars, houses and other benefits that he, his brothers and sisters would spend the money on.  They each received £3.96 because the lawyers in New Zealand had consumed the rest in the burial and the legal fees for dispensing his fortune!  Recently, the last of my father’s close relatives died and her estate was to be divided between the remaining family.  As the oldest surviving nephew, I was asked to provide a family tree and the result, astonishingly in one generation, was that there were 96 beneficiaries.  Similarly, by the time all of the expenses having been settled, including what appeared to be the compulsory auction of her few bits and pieces, the results were that I and another descendant who were fond of her went and purchased what mementos were available.

So, not quite as bad as the kindly grandmother who made a habit of asking her grandchildren of there was anything they would like when she passed, and then wrote a label with their name on it and stuck it to the object in question!  So after the funeral, it was a relaxed group who retired to her home for a wee snack and may a libation of some kind.  Our friend, who later told us this story, opened the cupboard where the tea service was with her name on it and discovered that no label existed, at which point the grandmother’s surviving daughter said ‘you need nae bother looking for the labels, I’ve taken them aff, it’s all mine’.  The mood changed from relaxed to acrimonious in one quick minute.  So, if you have similar plans, make sure that it’s written down in something called a will and it is signed!

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