I write this 35 years Dad after you have gone.i cant really except that of my sixty years ypu have been dead well over half of them. I write this today for you and in honour of my anestors…..
To .my ancestors at Advent. This is my sixtieth advent in another society I would probably now be classed as an elder or in another a Shaman. I think of the ancestors and I think of my great grandfather John John Shrewsbury a maker of guns and weaponry in the arms race of the late 19th century . I think of great grandfather Elias once Eli of Jewish and Spanish roots I think of them setting in north Wales and of promoting learning and knowledge. On the other side great grandfather Faulkner a rural worker who built a farm and became middle class. Then there is great grandfather Jimmy Hazelwood an Irish immigrant and rural worker. My mother’s muddle class outlook hid these roots from me And it was only in the last ten years have I established these connections. I think of Wilfed Earnest Hazelwood, a worker on the land and worker on the steam trains. Wilfred was a survivor of the second battle of the Marne. Had the German assault been 100 feet to the East then I would never have been.As it was he was missing in action for six days. He was found sitting in a bomb crater with only one boot. My other grandfather Horace John Shrewsbury served in Egypt in the Camel Corp during the march on Jerusalem. He had been made middle class from the money his father had made in the creation of arms . Somewhere a wound was opened up causing his words and anger to create in my Father a stammer. My grandmother Lilly Miriam Elias loved the plays of Oscar Wilde and the poetry of Longfellow..she lo ed learning and of a curious hybrid of Welsh and Jewish culture. Horace after the war became an insurance broker and built a typical London semi in the suburbs. They were the first to have a car in their street and went on cruises around the Mediteranean in the 20s and the 30s My mother’s mother Edith May Faulkner had a grim determination to carve out a living. She knew how to make money and was a small shop keeper in Leicester till the 60s. There was a neurosis that ran in the family and it seemed to echo down the generations. It left my mother anxious and ambitious to make it to the middle classes and respectability . Ironically I remember my grandmother Edith telling me that the local Spiritualist church wanted to train my mother as a medium. I often wonder if that may well have helped her. The past is a series of sliding doors of possibilities and it has taken me a lifetime to shed most if the snobbery she picked up as a Legal Clerk and as a Young Conservative during the 1950s. It was for this reason that I was sent to an English prep school. It’s left me with a loathing of the English ruling class. And in that soil of rebellion my grandfather Wilfred”s socialism grew into a sturdy plant . My Father was Keith was a gentleman who was bookish and tolerant. He waz a building Estimator and a convinced enlughtenment liberal. He would not tolerate racism and he loved books.. He passed onto me this love. It’s taken me years to recognise my mother’s contribution and an awful lot of therapy to appreciate her contribution. And in many ways I am still struggling with it. She gave me a determination to survive and use my skills to spot opportunity. She died eleven years ago and it has taken all this time and a bankruptcy and turmoil to understand..My father died 35 years ago and he is always with me. I thank my ancestors for their curses and their blessings …I celebrate them all as I would not be me without them. I thank you all my ancestors and try to love you . I am now 60 and the generations move on. Now is the time for my son Morgan Rhys to seek his own path and route of life and I love him most of all and honour him.
I call to the ancestors who lived and died before I took breath,
to all the mothers and fathers who created life,
who created life,
who created me.
Walk with me tonight.
I call to the ancestors who lived and died in my lifetime,
my beloved dead, my family, my friends.
Those who made me laugh and shared in my tears,
who shared this journey with me,
who shared their journey with me.
Visit with me again.
My breath is your breath.
My bones are your bones.
We are all relations.
I drink water for you.
I take in food for you.
Together we light the beacon…
Together we stand in the doorway…
We call to the recently dead.
We offer your names to the air.
We offer your names in prayer.
Kieth John Shrewsbury Marian Shrewsbury, Wilfred Earnest Hazlewood, Edith May Hazlewood, Horace John Shrewsbury Liliie Miriam Elias
All of my ancestors,
all of our relations,
wait to greet you.
Safest passage to each of you.
You are loved,
you are remembered.
Be at peace.
I think of my Father and how he would respond to this world of right wing populism and growing nationalism. My Father loved Europe as I do he would be out of joint with the loathing of books and of knowledge. I am glad he cannot see what has become of his gentle tolerance and liberalism. He would not have understood my path to Marxism and anti fascism. He would not have understood because he was convinced in the eventual victory of the enlightenment. I on the contrary believe that all our progress and liberation has to be defended and promoted in every generation. I often wish I was not born in an age like this. However I know strongly what I must do.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vex’d;
Bear with my weakness; my, brain is troubled:
Be not disturb’d with my infirmity:
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose: a turn or two I’ll walk,
To still my beating mind.
You have been gone 34 years now. I can still see how red the sky was as I walked back across Singleton park that day in early December 1983. I was 25 then abd I am 60 now. You have a grandson and there are so many things I wish I could share with you and talk to you about.
You gave me so many things, a love of reading and knowledge, a non-tolerance of racism , respect for different cultures, a rebellious nature and a certain eccentricity that we both share.
I have learnt so much in those thirty-two years, you would have loved to hear about the cultures I studied in Social Anthropology, the Philosophers I have read. My Ecosocialism and my rejection of the Neo-liberals and the flat emptiness if the politicians of the conventional political establishment.
There have been dark days..very dark over those years, and days of ecstasy and joy. I would love to have shared those times with you and reflected upon them with you.
I have many books now , Dad. Some of them were yours. I thank you for the things you gave me, for the love of words, for the love t of Mythology, Legends and Folk tales. I thank you for that near Death Experience you shared with me when you met the Old Gods and Goddesses of Greece. I hope when my time comes to enter the Summer lands that they are there for me too.
I remember smelling your Senior Service cigarettes the day Morgan was born. I remember watching “Brief Encounter” with you and I remember your tears. You are a romantic like me and you gave me the faith to hold out for love.
I remember your funeral. It was a dark wet day in late December. Suddenly, as your coffin was lowered, the sun burst through and a breeze shot around the church yard. The old Gods came for you , your other world was not the Christian one of the Angels and the clouds, it was a richer passionate one with no room for St Augustine and the company of Saints…but I miss you and love you particularly today