I have never been to Australia. The length of the journey has put me off, somewhat. Sitting in a plane for such a long time, eating those dreadful snacks does not make it a tempting prospect. However, there is a part of me that does want to go, to see the land where my grandfather (my father’s father) was born and died. As I get older, I have a growing desire to know where I ‘came from’. I know little of my grandfather’s history and it was certainly not something that was talked about in my family. I do know he was a soldier in the First World War; he came to England and met my grandmother. I know from my great aunts that they were deeply in love, engaged to be married and at the end of the war he booked her a passage on what was known as the Bride’s Boat. She was, however, pregnant (a bit of a scandal in those days). No one was sure whether he knew she was pregnant. Not long before the boat was due to sail, my grandmother heard that he had died on his ship in Sydney harbour of Spanish Flu – one of over 50 million people who died across the world from Spanish Flu. Because they were not married, her ticket was no longer valid because his family did not recognise her or her unborn child. A sad tale, but not dissimilar from thousands of other women during both the First and Second World Wars. This haunted her throughout her life. She married and brought up my father alongside his half brother. Some say, and I am one of them, that she handled the situation very badly; some, including my father, say she dealt with a difficult situation in the best way she could in the circumstances. I know my Dad would have liked to known his roots; when he died I found some rough notes about some of the information that he found out.
David Allen was a Trustee of mosaic: shaping disability services, where I worked, and knew of my passion for a good tea towel. When his aunt, who lived in Scotland, died (Aberdeen I think but can’t be sure) he gave me a few of her tea towels. This was a lovely gesture from a very generous, if eccentric, man. There was no need for him to do it but I did appreciate it. This tea towel, from Perth and Freemantle, is one of them. I have no idea what her connection with Australia was and I can’t ask him because he died more than 6 years ago. However, I have been able to create my own association with this tea towel.
Using this tea towel reminds me of the importance of listening to other people’s stories and memories; those stories are easy to lose but are all part of life’s rich pattern. I can understand why so many people are interested in Family History but what there is a danger of losing is the verbal accounts of the lives of our family rather than just relying on the Internet to track down lineage. I can almost see a project, set around the humble tea towel, of being able to record the memories of people with early stages of dementia. Maybe it is something I will think about.
Isabella really likes to appear in photos of tea towels. She has extremely good taste!! Isabella is keen that anyone who likes the tea towel blog should vote for it in the up and coming awards. The last day for voting is 25 January 2016 at 9pm
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum