Family history has a bit of a geeky image, and I won’t pretend it doesn’t have its fair share of anoraks, but it is also a deep and rich mine for good stories. I first got interested when my partner’s father died and we came across his genealogy research, which infuriated me because it only followed the male line, and had no dates on it. The family tree was kept in a heavy metal cash box, known in the family as the ‘broody box’, because Tim was very proud of his family, an enthusiasm not shared by his wife Jane. Also in the box were lots of documents and photographs all carefully annotated, which captured my attention, and I have spent an awful lot of time exploring various family lines, in Both A’s family and mine. Hers are easier as they had a tendency to use the mother’s maiden name as a middle name, and to have more unusual surnames. There have been numerous fascinating true stories, and intriguing dead ends that lead us to develop complex fantasies, which I have developed into a series of imagined letters.
This one, One Finger Typing, is absolutely true.
My Grandfather served in the Royal Artillery in Egypt during the war, and my grandmother got the war office telegram, swiftly followed by a typed letter, this is what I imagine it said:
they may tell you i am dead. im not. i got roughed up in an accident and ive been out of it for a few days. live but not exactly kicking. don’t worry i will be ok. borrowed this typewriter from a nurse. sorry for not writing properly but only one finger works. who would think with shells going up all round me id cop it from a loose electric cable. hope they didnt scare you love. hospital here is v good so wont be shipped home worse luck. doc says i was v lucky ken had his head screwed on and knew what to do. i say unlucky ken left the damn thing like that in the first place. nurse wants her typewriter back. ill write when i can.
kisses all round for my girls especially you.
Copyright Cherry Potts 2010